National Network of Healthcare Hygienists NNHH opens doors to Canadian RDHs

National Network of Healthcare Hygienists Opens Doors to Canadian RDHs

Aug 10, 2022

The National Network of Healthcare Hygienists (NNHH) Board of Directors is excited to announce they are now welcoming Registered Dental Hygienists from Canada. Requests for membership of this 501c3 professional organization which supports integrating RDHs into healthcare systems have been steady since their inception in 2018.

"We always wanted to welcome our Canadian RDH friends into our organization, but were concerned that doing so early could make designing our programs more complicated. Now that we have meaningful data collected, and our graduates are getting improved patient outcomes, AND new career opportunities as a result of our Oral Systemic Educator Certificate Program, we are finally able to welcome hygienists outside of the United States of America. Currently, any English speaking RDH is welcome to join us and complete our certificate programs, but our focus is on growing our Canadian membership. They have similar supervision laws, and similar passion when it comes to integration. Every hygienist I've spoken to from Canada is collaborative care minded, and ready for innovation." Jamie Dooley, RDH, BIS Executive Director NNHH

Heading up the membership drive for Canada is new NNHH Board Member, Colette Murray. She began reaching out to Dooley in 2019, offering her support of their mission that every collaborative care team in the United States includes one Registered Dental Hygienist by 2025, and asked her "How can we expand your mission into Canada?"

Dooley was excited about the expansion, and even more excited to welcome Murray as the first "official" Canadian RDH. They worked together to ensure the exchange rate was seamless and automatic.

"I believe that Canada is in a great position to integrate dental hygienists into medical collaborations for the benefit of our patients. I know the desire is already there and many of us are ready whenever the medical community is ready. Furthering of knowledge-base in oral systemic health, boosting the confidence of practicing dental hygienists, and the support that NNHH has in its vision for its members, will be key components in closing the gap and helping the medical community see our value in promoting the overall health of Canadians." Colette Murray, RDH, IRDH

NNHH offers a network of hygienists interested in, or already working in, nontraditional and/or integrated care settings the support they need to continue to grow their roles, and share their experiences and pilot programs. Their foundational certificate program Oral Systemic Educator has been praised by students and internship supervisors alike. 

“My college education taught me the technical skills necessary to do my job but this program has offered the missing education I needed to be a better practitioner. I now feel I have the depth of knowledge it takes to treat the whole patient and not just their mouth. Compared to our standard CE classes, I learned way more oral-systemic information I have longed for for my entire career and it wasn't based on someone's opinion or the way they run their practice.” Jennifer Daehn, Graduate of OSECP

Recently, the NNHH Board of Directors voted to make the Oral Systemic Educator Certificate Program (OSECP) more accessible by including access to it with the monthly membership fee of just $21. It's an incredible upgrade to an already valuable program, so they expect membership numbers to increase tenfold this year.

"We are a member-driven organization, so we asked them in a survey what was most needed and desirable as part of NNHH membership in 2022. Access to the high-level instruction and education of the OSECP (valued at $1499) came in first, while achieving accreditation and offering discounts on our specialty certificate programs were close runners up. We listened, and are in process of all three. We have been invited to apply for accreditation by ANSI National Accreditation Board and are developing an Oncology Certificate Program that will be offered at a discounted rate to our members in an early bird registration later this year. Our members are the best part of NNHH and we listen to their needs," said Dooley.

When asked why oncology was chosen as the first specialty certificate, Dooley said,

"There are already highly successful oncology programs to model after where an RDH is treating and lessening (even preventing) oral mucositis, along with educating oncology patients on oral-systemic complications that occur during treatment. Oral pain and side-effects are often noted as the worst part of cancer treatment for many, and RDHs are perfectly positioned to reduce the strain and workload of the clinic staff, while increasing quality of life for those undergoing treatment, and patient satisfaction scores for the clinics. We have the capacity to have a very large impact on a vulnerable population, while easing the burden on oncology providers who do not specialize in the oral cavity like we do. Plus our referral notes to dentists will be accurate and detailed, using our dental knowledge and language, and our explanations to providers and patients will be much more tailored to each individual."

Now that there is proof of concept, NNHH expects that many oncology clinics will employ RDHs to prevent and treat oral complications and manage referrals in the near future, but they also expect many hygienists who work inside dentistry will want to feel better prepared to care for the oncology patients who get referred to them. Some states allow hygienists to practice independently, or with indirect supervision, (such as in an oncology clinic) but not all. The goal is to help hygienists feel more confident treating oncology patients, and working collaboratively with oncology providers, outside of a dental setting, or within it.

Become a member of NNHH and access the Oral Systemic Educator Certificate Program HERE 

Join the waitlist for the Oncology Certificate Program HERE


Are you an RDH interested in dental/medical integration and collaboration? Check out our self-paced Certificate Programs that offer AGD/Pace CE. All of our programs are evidence-based and non-sponsored to focus solely on high-quality continuing education you can use immediately in a clinical, non-clinical or hybrid role. Click here now to view Certificate Program options.