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Updated 10:00 AM October 31, 2005




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  School of Dentistry
Many opportunities await dental hygiene students

The president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) told dental hygiene students at the School of Dentistry Oct. 21 that their training and education will open many doors of opportunity in the years ahead.
American Dental Hygienists' Association President Katie Dawson (Photo by Per Kjeldsen)

Those opportunities, Katie Dawson said, would complement not replace their experiences in private practice and encompass other areas, including public health, education, administration and management, research, and advocacy. Dawson visited the school prior to attending the Michigan Dental Hygienists' Association House of Delegates meeting in the Traverse City area.

Reflecting on her career and the dental hygiene profession, Dawson told students the public health area probably will be the biggest opportunity for them to grow professionally and personally in the years ahead. She cited examples of states allowing dental hygienists to work not only in dental offices but also in other ways, including providing preventive care to patients in nursing homes, in rural areas, and in some of the poorest communities.

"I want to emphasize that these new roles will not replace our current roles, nor are we trying to compete with dentists," she said. "We're simply talking about using our knowledge and training to provide services to those who have no access to care, or who have very limited incomes, especially the unserved and the underserved."

Dawson encouraged students to think about careers as dental educators and researchers.

"Many of today's teachers will be retiring in the years ahead, and there is going to be a need to find someone to replace them," she said. There also will be a need for researchers "because so many of our policies are based on research and evidence, and you can help here, too," she said.

She also encouraged students to consider becoming administrators and managers.

Dawson said she was impressed with how U-M dentists and dental hygienists are working together on various projects at the dental school's Michigan Center for Oral Health Research.

Founded in 1923, ADHA is the largest national organization representing the professional interests of more than 120,000 registered dental hygienists in the United States.

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