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dental careers and practice transitions dental careers and practice transitions

From teaching to mobile hygiene practice to digital imaging and beyond.

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Heather McCauley has been orbiting dentistry her whole life, and always knew she would one day find her own place in the field: “My dad was a dental lab technician and owned his own lab, so I was exposed to the industry a lot growing up. Eventually, I decided hygiene was the best fit for me because of the patient relationships. As a hygienist, you educate patients about their oral and systemic health and you have the opportunity to develop rapport and build relationships–it’s always so rewarding to see patients improve their oral and overall health through your recommendations.”

Heather attended hygiene school at the University of Minnesota and started practicing full-time. Two years later, she was asked to teach, and she found that she really enjoyed sharing her knowledge and passion with others. After several years of teaching, Heather moved to Colorado in search of a new adventure. After practicing full time for several years, she was presented with the opportunity to purchase and run her own mobile dental hygiene practice (in Colorado, a hygienist can practice independently, without a dentist.) Heather bought Mobile Oral Health from the previous owner, who proved to be an extraordinary mentor during the transition into her exciting new role.

For eight years, Heather provided care at nursing homes and assisted living facilities in her self-contained hygiene unit. “Once a year in Colorado, all residents are required to have an oral health screening, so I would visit each patient to conduct the screenings. Most of the facilities were in rural Colorado, and many of the residents would not have had the opportunity for care if I hadn’t visited–it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.”

Heather first encountered Midwest Dental when she joined Mountain Dental in Broomfield, Colorado to fill in for a maternity leave; she then became the Office Manager at the Wheatridge, Colorado practice. Upon moving back to Minnesota, she stayed with Midwest Dental as an Imaging Specialist. This new role gave Heather responsibility for compliance, repairs, and replacements of radiation-producing equipment for all practices, and “I love that I am able to use my clinical background in a role connected with IT. I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to be a hygienist at Midwest Dental because you can expand your skill set to different roles, as I have. These opportunities are not always available at a private practice.”

Of course, the past several months have opened up a new world of challenges for hygienists in the face of COVID-19, including navigating enhanced safety procedures and PPE requirements in a constantly changing environment in order to keep both themselves and their patients safe. Yet even during these trying times, “Midwest Dental has done a phenomenal job staying ahead of the information and updating offices,” Heather says. “The team has been very responsive in procuring materials for the practices to be able to open safely (including PPE, air purifiers, plexiglass, and more). I think the support center has done a stand-up job.”

Even (or perhaps especially) in the current climate, Heather remains a champion for Midwest Dental as a great place for hygienists: “Hygienists have an excellent opportunity to network and mentor with others. We have talented people working on the clinical team and in the support center, and mentoring is valuable (and available) for everybody.” Midwest Dental knows that hygienists like Heather are a vital part of the care team and works hard to give them the respect, support, and opportunities they deserve.

Midwest Dental is now hiring talented and passionate hygienists. Click here to explore our current opportunities.