Happy National Dental Hygienist Month!
This October, we will be celebrating the 1,100 Registered Dental Hygienists who call American Dental Partners their career home! American Dental Partners (ADP) recognizes that hygienists are the team members who often spend the most time with our patients, and we are proud of the personalized, high quality care they deliver each and every day.
Career support and clinical development for hygienists is a critical and significant focus for ADP. It takes a team of talented clinical and business professionals to ensure our hygienists are empowered to provide the best possible care for their patients, while receiving the best professional resources for their career.
ADP supports our incredible hygienists in several ways. Our Hygiene Mentoring Program is an excellent example of how ADP not only aids hygienists in their clinical development, but also promotes growth opportunities for clinical hygienists within our ranks.
Hygiene Mentors are clinical hygienists who spend all, or part of their working hours training and coaching hygienists on group clinical protocols and hone their individual skill sets. They are an integral part of on-boarding new hygiene team members and are always encouraging them to grow professionally.
This October, we will highlight the contributions of several of our talented Hygiene Mentors. We will get to know them, learn how their career took shape, and discover what motivated them to become such an integral part of growing our hygiene team.
Meet Terri Johnston!
Our first Hygiene Mentor to introduce is Terri Johnston of University Dental Associates in North Carolina.
Terri is responsible for mentoring and coaching hygienists in more than a dozen practices, which keeps her quite busy!
Andrea: How did your career begin at ADP?
Terri: I had my eye on University Dental Associates since I graduated from hygiene school in 2006. UDA had a reputation for being truly patient-centric and providing the best quality of care to their patients. I knew I would work there one day!
Andrea: What circumstances led you to the position your currently hold?
Terri: I worked at our UDA Kernersville practice for almost three years as a hygienist. I was under excellent leadership from day one and I had an opportunity to learn so much from them as we grew. I saw the need for a hygiene mentor in our affiliate and jumped at the opportunity! The group has been very supportive of my desire to take on more of a leadership role here.
Andrea: What do you like best about working with hygienists?
Terri: The best thing about working with hygienists is that I get to work along-side kindred spirits that really care about other peoples’ oral health. I get to spend time with other tooth nerds who see prevention as the best medicine!
Andrea: What are some of the issues you see hygienists tackling today, and in what way does ADP address those issues?
Terri: The biggest problem I can see hygienists having to manage over the next few years is one that we’ve been managing for a while — insurance and proper documentation. So many patients don’t understand that their insurance isn’t necessarily going to help them with all their dental needs and they want only what is covered by insurance. This challenges us to wear multiple hats in our role, as we educate patients on their treatment needs and their benefit and payment options.
I think a lot of hygienists are afraid of tackling this issue, but when we learn about their benefits and help our patients through this part of the process, they tend to appreciate our efforts and we’ve created a trust that we may not have been able to do otherwise.
Thorough and accurate documentation is key for proper diagnosis, record keeping and for payers to pay the claims of treatment that we so painstakingly complete and submit. Sometimes we, as hygienists, focus so much on the excellent clinical care that our documentation takes a back-seat. I feel like we need to see the value and importance of proper documentation to help our patients receive the excellent clinical care we always provide.
Andrea: Where do you see our profession headed in the next few years?
Terri: I hope to see Registered Dental Hygienists start receiving expanded functions in all states. Our dentists take on so many tasks, and I hope that we can take some of those responsibilities on for them, so they can focus on the bigger clinical issues at hand. I think a move to expanded functions will make for a stronger dental practice.
Andrea Kowalczyk, RDH, BS
Talent Acquisition Partner