On March 29th, 2018 UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year student teams presented their advocacy proposals to each other and guests who represented academia, regulation and professional associations. Led by Diana Lin, a Clinical Associate Professor with the UBC Faculty of Dentistry and class Instructor, the students were asked to research and present a cause advocacy issue with a clear focus on how dental hygienists can affect real system change through advocacy and action.
This year’s class featured seven presentation proposal topics:
Every year BCDHA waits in anticipation to receive an invitation to attend the presentation of advocacy projects by UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year students. We were pleased that once again Diana Lin, a Clinical Assistant Professor with the UBC Faculty of Dentistry and class Instructor, extended an invitation to come and hear the fantastic work these students have done.
In September 2013, we featured a story about the innovative educational opportunities found at the Vancouver Community College (VCC) Dental Hygiene Program. This program features an integrated, guided, independent study of self-directed projects that focus on ensuring that dental hygiene students develop their skills in the following areas: political action, oral health policy development, grant writing, professional advocacy and entrepreneurship. We are delighted to have had the opportunity to speak with three students involved in an advocacy and research project as part of this program on the health promotion and oral health needs of women on the Downtown Eastside.
Bhumika Panchawala, Katerina Dombrovska, and Jennifer Conolly all studied at the VCC Dental Hygiene Program and recently graduated in June of 2013. Starting in September 2012, they embarked on a class project that opened their eyes to the ways in which dental hygienists can advocate for the profession while making a real difference in their community.
As part of Dental Hygienists Week April 6-12, 2014, BCDHA has been featuring blogs that focus on dental hygienists at varying stages of their career. Having looked back at the profession over the last few days, it seems fitting to use this post to look forward to the future of dental hygiene.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela
March 20th, 2014 was a great day for the dental hygiene profession. On this day, UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Degree Program fourth year students presented their advocacy projects. This year, four student teams presented on a series topics that ranged from the creation of an ‘Ask A Hygienist’ website, a video series focused around the work dental hygienists do, an app called ‘Brushing up on Toothpaste’ that would allow people to learn more about active ingredients in toothpaste and which products were right for them, and last but certainly not least, a project focused on ensuring that UBC varsity athletes in high-impact sports could be provided with custom mouth-guards in collaboration with the UBC Dental Hygiene Degree Program.
Nora Tong is a 4th year student in the University of British Columbia’s dental hygiene degree program, and is also the president of the graduating class of 2014. As part of a speech she gave at the BCDHA 50th Anniversary celebration, she shares below her class’ perspective on what they envision for the future as they enter the professional aspect of their lives. Thank you Nora for sharing your insights and perspectives!
Our class is comprised of 17 female students. While the majority of our class is from the Lower Mainland, we also have students in our class from Kamloops, Abbotsford, 100-mile house, Alberta and Ontario.
Unanimously, our class agreed that we chose to study dental hygiene because of our passion to be involved in health care and make a difference in people’s lives. Many of us were influenced by positive experiences when visiting our dental hygienist. These role models answered our many questions, shared their experiences with us, and encouraged us to consider becoming oral health professionals.
Photo Credit: Vancouver Community College
Dianne Stojak, Dental Hygiene Program Community Health Coordinator and Instructor, has been with Vancouver Community College (VCC) since 1979 and with its Dental Hygiene Program since its inception in 1986. In the last 27 years the program has undergone curriculum renewal three times, the most recent within the last two years in which a new learning program was developed based on the Entry to Practice Competencies and Standards, a collaborative framework for dental hygiene practice developed by national professional and licensing organizations and educators. This framework emphasizes the importance of political activism, social responsibility, and advocacy in addition to clinical education.
The Dental Hygiene Program at Vancouver Community College (VCC) recently implemented an exciting new learning opportunity for its third year students. The program is an integrated, guided independent study of “self-directed projects” that came about because instructors at VCC, using the Canadian Dental Hygiene Association (CDHA) competencies as a framework, recognized that there were areas of dental hygiene instruction and practice that were lacking and therefore required greater development. The identified areas were political action, oral health policy development, grant writing, professional advocacy and entrepreneurship.
Sayena graduated from the UBC Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Program in May 2013. We wish all the success in the world to you and look forward to hearing from you again soon!
Why did you decide to pursue a degree in dental hygiene?
I was always interested in oral health. When I first started university, I enrolled in a general science degree, thinking I would pursue a career in dentistry in the future. However, throughout my time there, I learned about the UBC Dental Hygiene Program and I decided to enroll. I really like the idea of being in a professional program that will allow me to graduate with a specialized degree. I’ve learned so much more about the role of dental hygienists throughout the four years in this program. I started the program thinking that hygienists only worked in private practice, however I have come to realize that there are so many more roles that we can play whether in community health, administration or research.
Jennifer Vandergaag graduated from the UBC Faculty of Dentistry Dental Hygiene Program in May 2013. In planning for university, Jen initially had thought she wanted to be a nurse but circumstances changed and she made the decision to enter the dental hygiene program. “I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to be a dental hygienist. My intention was to be a physiotherapist, or a dentist, but I wanted a practical undergraduate degree with a career focus. My Mom spent a good portion of her career working in dental offices and I knew from her what a good career dental hygiene was, so I decided to take my Mom’s advice and apply to the dental hygiene program. I’m so glad I did, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Things really have just fallen into place perfectly.”
Eric graduated from the UBC Faculty of Dentistry’s Dental Hygiene Program in May 2013. We wish all the success in the world to you and look forward to hearing from you again soon!
Why did you decide to pursue a degree in dental hygiene?
A few people have asked me this question and I’ve put quite a bit of thought into it. I think it comes from my family background. My father and grandfather are both chefs who had a passion for eating and enjoying great food. They have always expected that they would lose their teeth at some point. For them, oral care wasn’t a high priority. I think my desire to become a dental hygienist comes from wanting to show them how to take care of their teeth so that they can enjoy eating well into their old age.
I have also always known that I wanted to help people and health care was something I’ve always wanted to do. This desire to help and work in health care, combined with my background, led me to dental hygiene.
Where do you hope to work once you enter practice?
My five-year plan is to work in private practice for a couple of years and then return to school for a Master’s degree in either education or science. I’d really love to return to UBC and teach in the dental hygiene program to share my knowledge and experiences with new students. This program has been wonderful and provided me with great networking opportunities. I’m currently looking into the requirements to be a clinical instructor, but I haven’t quite decided yet. However, I do know that it would be important for me to keep developing my knowledge and clinical skills throughout my career.
I also wanted to address the issue of visibility and the role that dental hygienists play in improving our image and the public’s health. This is something that I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching, in which I found many opportunities for us to promote our profession to the public. Communication and collaboration with other health care providers about our scope of practice is vital to increase access of care for the public. However, we must first start by advocating for ourselves.