Now that you have a better idea of the options you have in dental public health, it is time to review your résumé. What will it take to accomplish your goals? You may find you need more education, a different degree or a special certification. Remember to accentuate the skills you have as a health educator, a motivator and an organizer. Clinical dental hygienists are involved in promoting general health on a daily basis. Health education is not isolated from the role of any dental hygienist. Also clinical dental hygienists are skilled in providing care for many types of people; such as, those from a variety of ethnicities, the medically compromised, stroke patients, children and older adults. It is a natural fit for the dental hygienist to be part of an inter-professional team all working toward the common goal of improved quality of life. A degree or certificate in public health would make a valuable addition to your dental hygiene degree.23
Many dental hygienists seek an advanced degree in public health. Such degrees are available at the baccalaureate and masters level and beyond. On-line courses for these degrees can be found online and completed while still in a private practice role.
However, do not fail to recognize other certificate or degree programs may also provide credentials which would boost your résumé. A degree in health education can enhance your dental hygienist license. Once such a degree is completed, you would be eligible to sit for a credentialing exam and then hold the title of Certified Health Educator.24 This credential could open up opportunities that would allow you to enhance your knowledge of oral health alongside other aspects of public health practice.
You may also want to consider becoming certified as an association executive, one who operates the day-to-day activities of an association.25 State coalitions and professional associations are on the lookout for qualified individuals to oversee their operations for the membership. Certificates also exist for community health workers and health care administrators.26
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