ADHA Access August 2014 : Page 27

WORKING N ot many dental hygienists can claim that their dental career started when they were 10 years old, an age many children spend learning how to play sports or bonding with friends. But for Lisa Wadsworth, RDH, BS, that is exactly when her career began. “I thought, growing up as a young girl, that I would be a veterinarian,” Wadsworth recalls. And it may have been the case, if it weren’t for her father, who one day needed to under-go an emergency dental procedure. “I went to the dentist with him,” Wad-sworth remembered. “And the dentist said, ‘Why don’t you sit down on the assistant’s chair and just watch? And maybe hold the suction?” Wadsworth had always been a patient be-fore, but on that day, she saw dentistry from the other side of the chair. What’s more, this moment re-shaped her 10-year old dream of what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I was absolutely hooked,” Wadsworth said “I don’t know whether it was the idea of pro-viding patient care, or thinking I was making my father feel better, but I thought to myself, ‘This is it!’” Her career path started out like many dental professionals. At the time she was in school, it made more financial sense for her to become a dental assistant, a job that provided her with limited career opportunities, but also gave her a glimpse into the world of oral health care. That decision proved to be a good way to test the waters and further validate that she was on the right path. But eventually, it wasn’t enough for her. ”I wanted to take it one step further,” she said. “I wanted to be the one who really manages the patient, implements the protocol and delivers oral care.” After attending Camden County College and earning her associate degree, she went on to take several courses in areas such as an-esthesia, which, at the time, dental hygienists were allowed to administer. But it was soon after her initial education that she experienced the first of the many curveballs life would throw at her — the ability for dental hygienists to administer anesthesia was taken away by the New Jersey State Den-tal Board, and Wadsworth felt like her career was taking a step backwards. Unsure of what to do, Wadsworth sought advice from her father, who was just as influ-ential then as he was when she was a little girl. “You may lose a job, but they can’t take away your education,” she recalled him saying. Undeterred, her practice of dental hygiene continued, always in a periodontal/prostho-dontic setting, so she could stay on the cutting edge of dental implants. She practiced dental hygiene full-time for 25 years, with much of that time working as a dental implant surgical assistant. Although direct patient care was a priority, she was plagued by musculoskeletal problems as many clinical practitioners are. “I realized that my days as a hands-on clini-cian were numbered due to ergonomic issues and age, but another part of me wanted [to do] more than clinical hygiene. It was time for my career to take a big left turn.” At first, that left turn emerged in the form of a dental consulting business “Lisa C Wadsworth Inc.”, which also included speaking engage-ments and articles for dental publications. But because she still loved patient care, she would work part-time by filling in for friends facing maternity leave, answering calls from colleagues who needed help and testing new products before they entered the market. Wadsworth had always been a patient before, but on that day, she saw dentistry from the other side of the chair. At one point, Wadsworth thought she had achieved the perfectly balanced career path that would lead her to retirement. But as she began to reflect on her personal and profes-sional accomplishments, she remembered that earning a bachelor’s degree was a long lost dream. Fortunately, she had the support of those who also waited until later in life to pursue a higher education and loftier goals. “I have great friends and great mentors who kept telling me ‘Lisa, you can do it.’ They had also done it later on in life, and I finally said, ‘Why not? I’m going to put the stake in the ground and go back to school.’” During the four-year process for obtaining her BS in psychology, Wadsworth also continued to consult, write and lecture within the dental community. Her articles and lectures were often focused on the areas that motivated her the most — patient education and the oral-systemic link. While studying for her degree, Lisa was introduced to a physician who owns a medical practice in her area who shared the same passions as she did and also fervently believed in the oral-systemic link. Charles C. Whitney, MD, owns Revolutionary Health Services, a direct primary care (DPC) medical practice in Washington Crossing, Penn. DPC medical practices do not accept insur-ance; instead the patient pays an affordable monthly fee in return for an optimal level of personalized care that is focused on creating health and preventing illness. At the time they met, it just so happened that Whitney was looking to hire a director of operations for his DPC practice. Whitney was known to work closely with dentists in his area to control the periodontal disease of their mutual patients so that they collaborate on reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. “When I heard that he practiced 10 minutes from my home, I thought to myself ‘Well, this is silly — I have to go meet him.’” Wadsworth admitted that, at first, Whitney wasn’t sure how a dental hygienist would fit into his practice, especially at the level he was looking for. “We talked off and on for about a year,” Wadsworth recalled. “He didn’t think right away that a hygienist would be qualified to become his director of operations. But it all started making sense to him when he understood my depth of knowl-edge regarding periodontal disease and my hands-on operational experience with dental offices. It was the perfect example of having transferrable skills and experience.” Whitney offered Wadsworth the director of operations job and she immediately accepted. As director of operations, Wadsworth oversees the running of the medical practice and mon-itors how the practice serves every aspect of direct primary care. Patients can come to the practice and receive direct personalized care, or when medically appropriate, they can Skype or email with Whitney. The goal of the practice and of the patients is not simply to treat illness, but to prevent it, a goal that falls in line with every-thing Wadsworth has done in her career. Together, Wadsworth and Whitney are eval-uating the work they are doing, and thinking even bigger. “We are not only reaching out to dentists in our area, we are devising a way to bridge the oral-systemic gap by enlisting like-minded dentists and physicians through-out the country.” Specifically, Wadsworth and Whitney are developing a set of tools to unite the medical and dental professions. Whether spreading the message of the oral– systemic link into her community, through pa-tients or enlisting the assistance of other health care providers, every day provides a new set of opportunities and challenges, but they are ones Wadsworth is thrilled to undertake. As a reminder that her journey is not yet complete, Wadsworth finally celebrated her life-long dream — she obtained her bachelor’s degree. In many ways, her career has come full circle. She started out as a dental assistant, a position she still strongly advocates for, and is now the director of operations at a medical practice that truly embodies the spirit of dental hygiene and oral health. For Wadsworth, every day is a reminder that the road to self-enlightenment never has to end and that everyone, no matter where they are in life, has the ability to keep moving forward, forging their own path. This edition of Working was prepared by Josh Snyder. Access 27

WORKING

Wadsworth had always been a patient before, but on that day, she saw dentistry from the other side of the chair.

Not many dental hygienists can claim that their dental career started when they were 10 years old, an age many children spend learning how to play sports or bonding with friends. But for Lisa Wadsworth, RDH, BS, that is exactly when her career began.

“I thought, growing up as a young girl, that I would be a veterinarian,” Wadsworth recalls. And it may have been the case, if it weren’t for her father, who one day needed to undergo an emergency dental procedure.

“I went to the dentist with him,” Wadsworth remembered. “And the dentist said, ‘Why don’t you sit down on the assistant’s chair and just watch? And maybe hold the suction?”

Wadsworth had always been a patient before, but on that day, she saw dentistry from the other side of the chair. What’s more, this moment re-shaped her 10-year old dream of what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“I was absolutely hooked,” Wadsworth said “I don’t know whether it was the idea of providing patient care, or thinking I was making my father feel better, but I thought to myself, ‘This is it!’”

Her career path started out like many dental professionals. At the time she was in school, it made more financial sense for her to become a dental assistant, a job that provided her with limited career opportunities, but also gave her a glimpse into the world of oral health care. That decision proved to be a good way to test the waters and further validate that she was on the right path. But eventually, it wasn’t enough for her.

”I wanted to take it one step further,” she said. “I wanted to be the one who really manages the patient, implements the protocol and delivers oral care.”

After attending Camden County College and earning her associate degree, she went on to take several courses in areas such as anesthesia, which, at the time, dental hygienists were allowed to administer.

But it was soon after her initial education that she experienced the first of the many curveballs life would throw at her — the ability for dental hygienists to administer anesthesia was taken away by the New Jersey State Dental Board, and Wadsworth felt like her career was taking a step backwards.

Unsure of what to do, Wadsworth sought advice from her father, who was just as influential then as he was when she was a little girl. “You may lose a job, but they can’t take away your education,” she recalled him saying.

Undeterred, her practice of dental hygiene continued, always in a periodontal/prosthodontic setting, so she could stay on the cutting edge of dental implants.

She practiced dental hygiene full-time for 25 years, with much of that time working as a dental implant surgical assistant. Although direct patient care was a priority, she was plagued by musculoskeletal problems as many clinical practitioners are.

“I realized that my days as a hands-on clinician were numbered due to ergonomic issues and age, but another part of me wanted [to do] more than clinical hygiene. It was time for my career to take a big left turn.”

At first, that left turn emerged in the form of a dental consulting business “Lisa C Wadsworth Inc.”, which also included speaking engagements and articles for dental publications.

But because she still loved patient care, she would work part-time by filling in for friends facing maternity leave, answering calls from colleagues who needed help and testing new products before they entered the market.

At one point, Wadsworth thought she had achieved the perfectly balanced career path that would lead her to retirement. But as she began to reflect on her personal and professional accomplishments, she remembered that earning a bachelor’s degree was a long lost dream. Fortunately, she had the support of those who also waited until later in life to pursue a higher education and loftier goals.

“I have great friends and great mentors who kept telling me ‘Lisa, you can do it.’ They had also done it later on in life, and I finally said, ‘Why not? I’m going to put the stake in the ground and go back to school.’”

During the four-year process for obtaining her BS in psychology, Wadsworth also continued to consult, write and lecture within the dental community. Her articles and lectures were often focused on the areas that motivated her the most — patient education and the oral-systemic link.

While studying for her degree, Lisa was introduced to a physician who owns a medical practice in her area who shared the same passions as she did and also fervently believed in the oral-systemic link. Charles C. Whitney, MD, owns Revolutionary Health Services, a direct primary care (DPC) medical practice in Washington Crossing, Penn.

DPC medical practices do not accept insurance; instead the patient pays an affordable monthly fee in return for an optimal level of personalized care that is focused on creating health and preventing illness.

At the time they met, it just so happened that Whitney was looking to hire a director of operations for his DPC practice.

Whitney was known to work closely with dentists in his area to control the periodontal disease of their mutual patients so that they collaborate on reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

“When I heard that he practiced 10 minutes from my home, I thought to myself ‘Well, this is silly — I have to go meet him.’”

Wadsworth admitted that, at first, Whitney wasn’t sure how a dental hygienist would fit into his practice, especially at the level he was looking for. “We talked off and on for about a year,” Wadsworth recalled.

“He didn’t think right away that a hygienist would be qualified to become his director of operations. But it all started making sense to him when he understood my depth of knowledge regarding periodontal disease and my hands-on operational experience with dental offices. It was the perfect example of having transferrable skills and experience.”

Whitney offered Wadsworth the director of operations job and she immediately accepted. As director of operations, Wadsworth oversees the running of the medical practice and monitors how the practice serves every aspect of direct primary care.

Patients can come to the practice and receive direct personalized care, or when medically appropriate, they can Skype or email with Whitney. The goal of the practice and of the patients is not simply to treat illness, but to prevent it, a goal that falls in line with everything Wadsworth has done in her career.

Together, Wadsworth and Whitney are evaluating the work they are doing, and thinking even bigger. “We are not only reaching out to dentists in our area, we are devising a way to bridge the oral-systemic gap by enlisting like-minded dentists and physicians throughout the country.”

Specifically, Wadsworth and Whitney are developing a set of tools to unite the medical and dental professions.

Whether spreading the message of the oral– systemic link into her community, through patients or enlisting the assistance of other health care providers, every day provides a new set of opportunities and challenges, but they are ones Wadsworth is thrilled to undertake.

As a reminder that her journey is not yet complete, Wadsworth finally celebrated her life-long dream — she obtained her bachelor’s degree. In many ways, her career has come full circle. She started out as a dental assistant, a position she still strongly advocates for, and is now the director of operations at a medical practice that truly embodies the spirit of dental hygiene and oral health.

For Wadsworth, every day is a reminder that the road to self-enlightenment never has to end and that everyone, no matter where they are in life, has the ability to keep moving forward, forging their own path.

This edition of Working was prepared by Josh Snyder.

Read the full article at http://pubs.royle.com/article/WORKING/1767515/218708/article.html.

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