Our hygiene grads go the distance

Travelling to serve those in need, integrating hygiene into teams, ensuring excellence in educations, and leading associations, our dental hygiene alumni are a force to be reckoned with! Read about a few who have taken the road less travelled (one quite literally) to serve their communities.

04 March 2020

Amie Dowell (BSc ‘01, DipDH ‘03, MPH ‘08)

Amie DowellI’ve always known that I wanted to lead an organization; I just needed to give myself the time and space to get the education and experience so that one day I could be an effective leader. After completing my MPH, I looked for opportunities to gain leadership experience in a variety of settings. When the leadership opportunity as Registrar and CEO became available at the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta (CRDHA), I felt that it was a perfect fit for me given my background and experience. It’s a really dynamic role and I have a greater appreciation now for the role that regulators have in public protection.

I went into the Dental Hygiene program with a Bachelor of Science so I had experienced the stress of full schedules and difficult classes and labs. However, I was surprised about how challenging the Dental Hygiene program was. I think that many students apply to the program assuming that it is a technical role; however, many of the classes focus on oral health and the link to systemic health. Our healthcare system is focused on prevention of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease and dental hygienists are actually trained to be a key practitioner in the prevention and treatment of these diseases.

Although I enjoyed the oral-systemic health aspect of dental hygiene and providing education and guidance to clients about their overall health, the physical component of the job was very difficult on my body. I knew that I wanted to stay in the preventative healthcare field and the MPH at the U of A offered a stream called Health Policy and Management that was really appealing. I was attracted to learning the business skills that I knew were required to move into an administrative role, but keep the focus on healthcare, and this program was the perfect combination for me.

Amina Elladen (DipDH ‘07, BScDH ‘09)

Amina ElladenI have been working with Alberta Health Services as a Registered Dental Hygienist since 2010.

It was during a two-week U of A rotation with Aspen Regional Health Authority that I was able to understand first-hand the importance of public health. After seeing how multidisciplinary teams collaborated and the impact I could make, I knew then that I wanted to pursue a career in community health.

Through my position, I am able to promote oral care in vulnerable populations and positively shape the way that children view oral health and dental professionals.

I hope to be able to integrate dental hygiene into other interdisciplinary teams, specifically to promote oral health in oncology patients.

Breanne Moran (BScDH ‘17)

Breanne Moran and Alexandra SheppardCurrently, I dedicate most of my professional life to clinical practice as a dental hygienist. However, for parts of the year, I am fortunate enough to doff my clinical attire to serve as the CDHA’s student representative on the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada’s (CDAC) Dental Hygiene Committee.

It is in this role I get to work alongside some of the greatest DH educators, representatives, and leaders across the country. It’s an honour to sit at the table with many distinguished members, offering my input toward conferring accreditation statuses to educational programs and other matters of interest in DH education in Canada.

The CDAC holds our educational programs across the country to a high standard, and is a critical player in evolving and growing academic outcomes for graduates. I have gained an appreciation for the function of accreditation in ensuring excellence in education for DH graduates and the countless hours of work our educational programs must invest into procuring and upholding an approved accreditation status – it’s no small feat!

I am very fortunate to serve in this role, and I would not have been accepted into this position if it weren’t for the vital support of our DH Educators at the School of Dentistry. The DH Educators at the U of A are exceptional at uplifting and supporting their students to seek opportunities for growth. They enriched my student experience!

Kelsey Yaremko (DipDH ‘08, BScDH ‘09)

Kelsey YaremkoI started volunteering with Kindness in Action (KIA) 10 years ago and never looked back. Joining the board was another way I am able to help the organization beyond my clinical skills.

My schooling at the U of A not only inspired me, but taught me to strive to be the absolute best at what I do. I take that notion with me on KIA trips, aiming to provide the highest standard of care for my patients, no matter if that setting is a Himalayan monastery or Guatemalan village deep in the jungle.

I’m lucky to have found KIA, since I always knew I would find myself in a truck, on a bumpy dirt road in the middle of the jungle, heading to a village to provide oral healthcare to people who desperately need it and might otherwise go without!

I am currently working in Calgary doing clinical dental hygiene at a couple of different practices. As well, I am working on my master’s degree in global health policy from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I would love to continue working in dentistry and pursue a full-time career in the non-profit world.