I first became interested in the dental field when I realized I had the opportunity to make a positive impact on others’ lives. One thing I am passionate about is increasing the affordability and access to dental care in low-income communities and prison systems. I believe that with this degree I will be able to give back to a community like the one I grew up in.
When I began studying in the Herzing University dental hygienist degree program in Minnesota, I worked with a fun, caring and loving dental hygienist named Zuma. She taught me about the opportunities to volunteer my time after I get my degree, and has been a big inspiration for me in my career. She works part-time as a dental hygienist and also on a sliding fee scale as a dental assistant in a low-income community in Minneapolis.
Being a dental hygienist is more than cleaning teeth. It is about teaching people how to maintain their oral health as well as helping to detect and prevent serious health conditions. During a regular dental checkup, a dental hygienist screens for oral and throat cancer, thyroid issues, malnutrition, eating disorders and more.
Detecting these issues early on is very important, but some people cannot afford their regular dentist appointments. This is why I want to offer my services to people in my spare time once I am licensed. I do not think that that anyone should have to suffer because of his or her lack of financial resources, and I believe that everyone should have access to quality dental care.
With this degree, I will be able to volunteer at local community centers, offer classes at public and charter schools, work on a sliding fee scale to help lower cost clinics, and possibly even travel the country and the world offering my services. Honestly, the possibilities are endless.
In May of this year, I learned about the opportunity to join the Student American Dental Hygiene Association (SAHDA), which is a volunteer network we can become involved in as students. The mission of SAHDA is to improve public health and help ensure access to quality RF.
I have already talked to my advisor about joining SAHDA and I am looking into ways that I can volunteer at local clinics after graduation. I look forward to helping people and making a change for the better with my degree.