Hello and welcome to my ePortfolio! I hope that you enjoy learning more about me and my journey to becoming an RDH.
A few years ago, a loved one was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic endometrial cancer. Wanting to keep her at home for as long as possible, I became her caregiver. This was a very difficult role for me since I was very inexperienced and was also emotionally invested in the relationship. I became solely responsible for assessing her medical needs, such as administering her prescription medications and assisting with pain management. I also helped her with bathing, grooming, maintaining her household and meal preparation which included transitioning her to a completely organic-based diet. It was through this experience that I became very interested in the field of health care.
When researching different career paths in the health care industry, I became particularly interested in dental hygiene. Although I had no previous dental experience, I decided to pursue the educational prerequisite courses necessary to gain admittance into the dental hygiene program at City Tech. Just two weeks before I entered the program, my loved one passed away. It was a very difficult time for me to begin such a rigorous curriculum.
The dental hygiene program has proven to be very challenging, indeed. It has been a journey of growth and change and has also been the most rewarding experience of my entire life. I believe that I am finishing my journey as an entirely different person than I was when I started – a better person – one with completely redefined goals, purpose and ambition.
The most amazing and fulfilling experience of being a dental hygiene student has been being able to treat patients from such a diverse population. As dental health care providers, we must be sensitive to individual health behaviors and practices and we must be able to alter our communication and interaction style accordingly. A person’s health beliefs can provide vital information for treatment planning, evaluation, scheduling, and interpersonal communication. Incorporating all this information is important while treating patients and has an impact on the value of the health care. It is incredibly rewarding when I learn that a patient has requested a recare appointment with me. I am very proud of my loyal patient following and I certainly hope to continue to achieve this as a practicing RDH.
During my last semester of dental hygiene school, I learned about managing pediatric patients. I have become particularly interested in oral health care for developmentally disabled children. Children with developmental disabilities often have unmet complex health care needs as well as significant physical and cognitive limitations. Those with more severe conditions and from low-income families are particularly at risk with high dental needs and poor access to care. One of my future career goals as an RDH consists of learning more about how I can effectively provide oral hygiene care to this population of children.
Becoming an RDH has been a completely life-changing experience for me altogether. I am so grateful for the challenges and the struggles that I faced because they made me a much stronger individual and have given me a clearer vision of the professional that I strive to be. I have been inspired on a daily basis by my instructors, patients and fellow students. My vision of success no longer consists of “climbing a ladder to the top.” Instead, I hope that I can inspire others. I hope that I can make a positive difference in the lives of my patients by improving their overall oral health. I hope that the woman who thinks it’s too late to change careers reads my story and decides to pursue her dreams and I hope that someday, someone will look at me and say, “because of you, I did not give up.”
Read more about me and my future career goals in this interview with Holly Fink from the JFEW Scholarship Foundation: