Welcome to the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association website (WI-DHA). The WI-DHA has been working hard with our new web designer, Essential IT, to create a website that is informative and easy to use. This year, as President of WI-DHA, it is important to me that everyone is up-to-date on dental hygiene news, opportunities, member resources, and happenings behind the scenes.
The WI-DHA is an important piece of keeping the dental hygiene profession a valued member of the total oral and systemic health care team. Over the years we have worked hard to dispel the notion that dental hygienists simply ‘clean teeth’. Although cleaning teeth is an important part of what we do, we are also integral in identifying oral and systemic health concerns. Research supports that much of what we do includes improving overall health, improving quality of life, and even saving lives. Dental hygienists are also extremely valuable as educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, corporate representatives, and legislative advocates.
Why you matter?
Every member is extremely important to WI-DHA regardless of the level of involvement. Did you know there are over 5,000 registered dental hygienists and almost 4,000 dentists in Wisconsin? Although most dentists and dental hygienists have very good working relationships, our needs and wants are not always represented by dentists at the state and national levels. We need to be able to represent ourselves and be advocates for optimum patient care and improved access to oral health care. With that said dentists have a significantly higher rate of association membership than dental hygienists in Wisconsin. Association numbers speak volumes when talking to legislators about protecting and growing our profession.
Behind the scenes
Although most of us are not active participants in our association, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to help advocate for the dental hygiene profession, improve our scope of practice, and set standards for wages and working conditions. Just a few highlights in the last twenty years include administration of local anesthetic, ability to be Medicaid providers, improved supervision regulations, nitrous oxide administration, and settings expansion without dental supervision. Please see the WI-DHA Advocacy Achievements for a comprehensive list of milestones achieved with the help of the WI-DHA. Many of us take for granted the scope of practice dental hygienists enjoy today.
My own experience with the WI-DHA was slow in coming as I did not truly understand what the association did for me behind the scenes. By Association I mean wonderful people who have volunteered countless hours over many years to network with key-stakeholders and create change for our profession. While working on my thesis, The Oral Health Status of Wisconsin Farmers and the Need for Patient Activation, I reached out to the WI-DHA board to seek advice and possibly volunteers to help provide oral health screenings during a large farming exposition in WI. This very first board meeting experience left me feeling overwhelmed with support and hooked on supporting this amazing group of dental hygiene professionals. Shortly after that first meeting I became the secretary of the association, then President-Elect, and now President. Other benefits I have directly received from being involved in the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and WI-DHA include receiving the Rosie Wall Grant to help support my thesis project, awarded attendance at the annual Unleashing Your Potential Leadership Training, speaking opportunities at the local, state, and national levels, and representing our state at the ADHA annual meeting. The goals for this presidency are to use the WI-DHA strategic plan to help advocate for the dental hygiene profession at the state and national level and most importantly to advocate for YOU!
Thank you if you are a member of the WI-DHA. Your membership is extremely valuable to the association, to the dental hygiene profession, and to you. If you are not a member you are still able to reap the benefits that a professional association can bring. Please bring your questions, comments, concerns to this important dental hygiene platform so we can all work together to improve dental hygiene working conditions, increase the dental hygiene scope of practice, elevate our status as oral health professionals, and reduce barriers to oral health care for all people. Remember that to truly reap the full benefits of something one must be willing to contribute. Your membership, time, and talents make a significant impact on what the WI-DHA can achieve.
Letters from Past Presidents
I am honored to serve as WI-DHA’s President for term 2018-2019. I have been a member of WI-DHA for 15 years and have been actively involved with Leadership for the past 6 years. The opportunities that I have had as an active member of WI-DHA – include serving as a Central Component Trustee, Delegate at the State and National levels and participant of ADHA’s Unleashing Your Potential (UYP) leadership training in 2017It was a great honor, being one of 40 Dental Hygienists in the United States to be selected to attend UYP and it truly was a priceless experience. As President-Elect, I served under President Jennifer Martinson, who I greatly respect and admire. Now, I am doing my part to make a difference for the State of Wisconsin and the Profession of Dental Hygiene.
Although I was a member for several years, I was not always actively involved. My membership did not change me until I got “Into the Know.” That happened for me after I attended my first Board of Trustee’s meeting. When I left that meeting, I felt like it was Dental Hygiene on “Miracle Grow.” The value of that meetings was priceless as I learned so much and began to see what I was missing out on. I learned so much about what was happening at the state level and much more. An advanced college course on leadership would not provide the camaraderie, knowledge, networking, growth, value, and advancements as a meeting with other dental hygiene professionals. The experience for me, was priceless and I was hooked! I encourage everyone to get into “The Know”.
All WI-DHA members are encouraged to reach out to me so I can share this experience with you. Please attend board meetings and get involved in component representation and mentoring. The WI-DHA focus this year is on mentoring students and connecting them with a mentor from WI-DHA leadership. I am planning a campaign across the state to visit each component, socialize during a Dental Hygienist’s Social Hour, and assist each component with continuing education requirements.
The WI-DHA focus this year is on mentoring students and connecting them up with a mentor from WI-DHA
I am very excited for this year and what is in store for our profession as we move forward with medical/ dental integration, access to patient care with Act 20 that was passed in 2017.
The WI-DHA supports and encourages Dental Hygienists to practice to the fullest extent of their license.
I am excited and honored to be serving as your 2017–2018 president. Being actively involved in our association is my way of giving back to WI-DHA for all of the years I wasn’t a member. Membership was rarely discussed nor encouraged when I was in dental hygiene school. That lead me to believe it wasn’t necessary or valuable. Having said that, the first thing I want to do as president is thank all of you who were working diligently to protect our profession, even when I wasn’t involved. I truly appreciate your time and efforts.
I didn’t join WI-DHA until I started to work with colleagues who required membership. This is when I attended my first Board of Trustees’ meeting. I didn’t have plans to become actively involved. At that time I was content with simply paying my yearly dues.
My perception was that our association didn’t fight for us to be able to do all that we are educated and trained to do. I also felt like WI-DHA didn’t acknowledge or appreciate my membership. When I had initially reached out to someone and didn’t hear back, I was frustrated. Then I remembered something I had been told many years ago: things that you take value in take effort. That’s when I realized what membership is truly about. It’s about the positive impact I can be a part of for the benefit of my patients, family, friends, and public health in general.
Many wise colleagues of mine have said, “you only get out of something what you put into it.” This statement opened my eyes to the importance of membership, regardless of whether or not I chose to be an active member. It taught me that leadership is not a position, it’s an action. It is the action that comes from collaboration with all of us, not just one or a few of us. Our actions have, and will continue, to create change. We are all accountable for our profession, as well as the growth and longevity of it.
This coming year WI-DHA will be reaching out to political leaders and other healthcare professionals to explain who we are, what we do, and why our profession is important. It’s our responsibility to show them that dental hygienists are a fundamental part of the health care team, and we are essential to patients’ overall health when employed in other professional settings.
We had a successful Lobby Day this year and are planning another one for next year. As our membership grows, our association will be able to utilize people’s strengths to their fullest potential, which will allow the dental hygiene profession to move forward with positive change and benefit to our patients.
Jennifer Martinson, BS-RDH, 2017-2018 WI-DHA President
Hello to all,
I would like to introduce myself as you are 2016-2017 WI-DHA President. I look forward to sharing this journey with you over this next year, and would like to start by explaining where my journey began.
I found a passion in improving the profession and improving our role in creating optimal patient care and access to patient care…
My journey to the WI-DHA Presidency began years ago as a student. Through my involvement in the student organization I gained my first insight into the passion for the practice of dental hygiene. I was fortunate exposed to all facets of the dental hygiene profession, leadership, public health, legislative efforts, and of course, clinical practice. I found a passion in improving the profession and improving our role in creating optimal patient care and access to patient care from each of these avenues. Guided by mentors from many areas of dental hygiene, I soon found my passion for leadership and leading others.
Entering the dental hygiene profession I had little confidence. I was even terrified of speaking in front of the class during hygiene school. That all changed the weekend I attended my first WI-DHA Indigo Conference as a student, it was then I was given the confidence that I can make a difference and that one voice can make a difference in a group of many. I found myself involved in a round table discussion discussing how the perfect the practice of dental hygiene was changing and evolving. I sat with a group of seasoned professionals, and being a student, obviously I was very intimidated. To top it all off, my group volunteered me to be the spokesperson for the group and report out to the entire room. I was terrified. I had never spoken in front of a group of more than 10 people in my life. I was never to know that this was the day that being pushed out of my comfort zone and facing my fear would change my life. After I spoke to the large group, I was approached by a few people who said that they were impressed by the fact that I was a student and able to stand up in front of the room and speak. “Wow!” I thought to myself, facing my fears really paid off! My passion spiraled from there and I had the confidence to face my fears head on. So, upon graduation, when I was asked if I had any interest in running for Northwest Component Trustee of course I said “yes!” This involvement soon led to a deep passion for leadership and leading others within the organization. During my time as Trustee, I also chose to run to WI-DHA Delegate to ADHA Annual Session. This was even further outside of my comfort zone, to attend the Annual Session as a recent graduate, and to trust others within WI-DHA to have confidence in my and to elect me to this position was again, extremely intimidating. Good news, I was elected and attended Annual Session as a leader.
I challenge you to understand that YOU, even one hygienist, can make a difference
When I arrived at the conference, I truly found where I belong. I realize that dental hygienists from the entire country were interconnected by this amazing organization, ADHA. I knew then that this is my calling, to lead. I went on to run for WI-DHA Vice President and served my term building further knowledge of the workings of WI-DHA. To me the next natural step was to run to WI-DHA President and I am extremely honored to be trusted to serve you. My passion is so deep that I recently earned my Masters’ Degree in Organizational Change Leadership! Throughout my leadership journey I had a great deal of support from those around me and to build me up and I knew that I could do it, I hope you know that we are all here to build YOU up as well.
What does all this mean to you? I tell you my story to hope to inspire yours. Know that WI-DHA/ADHA is here to guide you on your journey. I encourage you to be involved in any way. Start with Membership, attend some meetings in your area, and join us at the state level with WI-DHA. I am well aware that even if you push yourself outside of your comfort zone that not everyone desires to be a leader, or hold a position. That is not an expectation, however, I do challenge you to understand that YOU, even one hygienist, can make a difference. Your membership supports the work of those who work tirelessly to move the professional forward, help it to evolve to serve patients in areas where they are in most need. Changes do not happen by chance, by sitting around and waiting for change. Leaders are actively working for you, protecting your profession and your future. Please support WI-DHA as we continue to support you.
I look forward to getting to know each of you, I hope you take the time to get to know me. I would love to help you in any way you can, answer questions about your membership, what you can do, how you can get involved, how you can find your passion.
Megan Lube, 2016-2017 WI-DHA President
First of all, I would like to once again thank Linda Jorgenson and all of my mentors for prepping me for the President position this past year. It has been quite the journey to get to this point and I am very grateful for this opportunity. We have a great team of leaders this year, some who have been involved for years, and others who are taking on a position for the first time. I want to personally thank each of you for taking on a leadership role and dedicating your time to this association.
I was immediately hooked when I felt the energy and power of so many hygienists in one area!
I want to share a bit about my journey because I have heard many of you say, “I could never be President”, or “I want to get involved, but I’m not really sure how?” I started out in SADHA because of a very inspirational instructor, Debbie Schumacher. I will forever be grateful to her for encouraging me to get involved. I started school with the mentality, you get back exactly what you put in. Because of this, I got involved with everything I could. The event that really started it all was participating in the student table clinics at the ADHA Annual Session in Orlando, Florida. My classmates and I didn’t do this because we HAD to, we did this because we were excited and we wanted to! I was immediately hooked when I felt the energy and power of so many hygienists in one area!
I have never lost that mentality of getting back exactly what you put in, which is why I intend to work very hard for you this year.
After I graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College, I knew I had to stay involved in the Association and continue to give what I could as a member. I went to meetings, sat in the back, and took in a wealth of information. Before I knew it, I was asked to be on various committees, run the student table clinics, and even become the Central Component Trustee. For every position held, every person met, and every meeting attended, I have gained more than I could ever explain. The networking alone has given me so many opportunities in my career. I have never lost that mentality of getting back exactly what you put in, which is why I intend to work very hard for you this year.
With that being said, I encourage you all to get involved! You never know where an opportunity may take you. So what do I envision for this year? I want to focus on the “Outreach” portion of our strategic plan. I want every member to know exactly what is going on in our state. I also want to focus on leadership development, and as always, our membership. This is an important time to stand together and maintain high standards in all areas of our profession. I promise to be the voice for our association but I can’t do that without your help! I want to hear from YOU! Let’s make this another great year!
Ashley McCauley, 2015 WI-DHA Past President