Dental Hygienist

by Sara Chamberlain, submitted 2011

For most people, a trip to the dentist's office is a necessary evil. But Erin Martinson (née Hinchliff) sees it as an opportunity for people to enhance their overall health.

As a dental hygienist in a busy practice in Camrose, Erin provides oral health therapy to patients with a variety of needs. She finds her work interesting, challenging, and rewarding. For Erin, it's about much more than a patient leaving the office with a brighter smile.

Erin makes it a priority to educate her patients on oral care and health. "My work allows me to help people to become healthier and more mindful of their bodies," she explains. "The challenging aspect of my career is working with people who don't prioritize or aren't aware of good oral health practices. I try to motivate them to change their habits," she continues. "It's rewarding when I see improvement in a patient's health."

Erin is practical when it comes to her role as a health practitioner. "I realized early on that the health of my patients is their own responsibility," she explains. "All I can do is present information to them and be there if they have questions or want to make changes."

Erin's interest in dental hygiene began in high school with a work experience placement in a dental office. Upon graduation, she didn't feel ready to pursue a career in the field, so she enrolled at Augustana to earn a science degree first.

"The professors in the science department put all of their energies into making learning enjoyable, interesting, and motivating," says Erin. "I am very grateful for the experience."

Her experience at Augustana extended beyond biology class. In addition to being a resident assistant, Erin coordinated the Augustana Ambassador's Club, promoting the university to prospective students. "It was a great way to be involved," she remarks, "and to attract students to the campus to enjoy the same experience I had."

With her degree completed, Erin entered the University of Alberta's competitive dental hygiene diploma program. The faculty accepts only forty students a year and bases selection on academic standing and an interview. Erin says Augustana helped prepare her for the three-year program: "Having such a strong background in the sciences, I found I had a better handle on the subject matter than some of the other students."

Erin and her husband Davin (BSc Chemistry '03) chose to settle and begin their careers in Camrose so they could be near Davin's parents in New Norway. While they've only lived in Camrose for a short while, the Martinsons are taking steps to be part of their community. They are members the Rotaract Club, a version of the Rotary Club for people under thirty. "I believe when you give back to your community it makes you appreciate it more, and you're more concerned with what goes on in it," Erin says. "We hope to have kids one day, and we want to make it a good place for them to grow up."