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Congratulations to the 2021 winners of our Future Leader Award Winners! These winners have shown leadership skills, compassion, and drive throughout their dental hygiene school. Each year, the UDHA gives 1 dental hygiene student from each school this prestigious award.

Kamber Brantley, RDH- SLCC

Courtney Hiatt, RDH- UVU

Dakota Hare, RDH- UCDH

Sarah Graham- Dixie State University

Kaitlyn Hansen- Weber State

We're lucky in Utah to have both amazing dental hygienists and dental hygiene students in our association supporting our profession. We're excited to highlight Courtney, a new RDH and winner of the UDHA Future leader award for UVU, this week and highlight her passion for dentistry.

UDHA: What sparked your interest in a career in dental hygiene?

C: I have always wanted to be a dental hygienist. Growing up I had an amazing dentist and dental hygienist that made me love my visits to the dentist. I want to do the same for others. Dental appointments can be frightening, but I would love to change that and give patients a positive experience. I also just have a tooth obsession…but what dental hygienist doesn’t?!

UDHA: Of course you have to be a little bit obsessed with science and teeth to work with them each and every day! You definitely found your people. How have you been involved in the UDHA as a student? Are there ways to be involved as a student?

C: I have been able to be involved with UDHA and ADHA events a lot throughout dental hygiene school. The biggest thing I have learned is how to be an advocate for our career. I have been able to learn from some amazing instructors and professors that continually advocate for positive change!

UDHA: Do you have any funny stories from school or working in dentistry?

C: A funny experience I had in school was when I had a full appointment of stand-up dentistry. I’m 5’0 and even with laying the patient’s wheelchair back I still couldn’t see into his mouth. My professor had to get me a stool to stand on! I had to put the ultrasonic pedal on the stool, and my back will probably never recover from that appointment haha!

UDHA: Any advice for a new dental hygiene school?

C: My advice to new dental hygiene students is to soak it all in. It will be some of the most stressful years of your life, but the most rewarding and it flies by so fast! Attend extra events including UDHA meetings, conferences, etc. You will meet so many awesome dental peers this way!

Updated: May 11, 2021

Utah is one of the handfuls of states in American where dental hygienists have been approved to give vaccines. We're excited to connect with Melinda, a dental hygienist in Utah County, who has been working as a vaccinator in Utah and been giving hundreds of vaccines to help with the role out. We were able to chat about a few common questions other dental hygienists have and give some advice if they're interested in becoming a vaccinator.

UDHA: Congratulations on your role as a vaccinator! Have you had patients ask you about your background?

M: I've had multiple people compliment me on the ease and painlessness of the shot! Only one person has asked where I worked and she thought it was cool that I was vaccinating.

UDHA: What type of patients have you been seeing?

M: All different types of patients! Mainly 16-17-year-olds right now with their parents due to the age of vaccines opening up to them.

UDHA: Do you feel like your training as a dental hygienist has made it possible for you to be a vaccination?

M: Yes! We know so much about injections, patient communication, post-op instructions, and the safe handling of syringes. We are very educated and can handle and excel in these types of settings.

UDHA: How did you sign up to be a vaccinator?

M: I'm in Utah County, so I used the Medica Reserve Corps. Make sure when you sign up, put you're medical and willing to give vaccines to help speed the process along.

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