Hygienists Remain Crucial to Oral Health in MedicineFeb 10, 2023
DENTAL / MEDICAL INTEGRATION NEWS
Registered Dental Hygienists (RDHs) are passionate, highly educated, licensed healthcare providers who historically have been underutilized by healthcare systems. As medical teams across the nation are tasked with integrating oral health into their existing services and protocols, it becomes evident that dental and oral-systemic knowledge is lacking and additional team members need to be brought in to close the gap.
Hygienists with additional training in oral systemic education, program development, and leadership have been waiting for their opportunity to contribute and are excitedly joining multidisciplinary teams in a variety of roles and settings. Many are beginning to share their stories, but more detailed data and structure is needed to begin to see systemic change.
The National Network of Healthcare Hygienists (NNHH) supports RDHs as they integrate oral health into medical and healthcare systems. They offer a networking community, certificate programs in areas of medicine, and share their members and students stories of unique roles, groundbreaking programs, and leading edge job descriptions.
The NNHH Board of Directors has a vision of every collaborative care team in the United States and Canada including an RDH by the year 2025. Their mission is to prepare hygienists to feel better prepared to work on multidisciplinary teams; educating providers, administration, and patients on the oral systemic link, and working nontraditional roles to assist in development of systems and programs that increase access to care and better serve vulnerable patients. Some will also work clinically (depending on state supervision guidelines), but the early pioneers of integration will need to tap into their leadership and development sides at least equally.
As more "Integrated Hygienists" create and are offered hybrid roles to develop and oversee oral health protocols in specialty areas such as: Pediatrics, Diabetes Wellness, Oncology, Cardiology, Primary Care, Mental Health, Functional Medicine, HIV / Addiction and more, certificate programs will be integral to close the knowledge gap and allow medical systems to outsource their training.
NNHH is proud to be the first organization that was specifically developed to provide self-paced online certificate programs for RDHs who desire to be part of the important shift that is occurring. The intention is to expand the ways hygienists can distinguish themselves (much like the nursing profession does) with certificates, but an added layer of implementation has been included with a required Capstone Project and optional Practicum.
They currently have two certificate programs open to students:
If you are a Registered Dental Hygienist who would like the opportunity to specialize in an area of medicine, or move to a hybrid role working part clinical and part administratively, become a member of NNHH and gain access to the Oral Systemic Educator Certificate Program at no additional fee!