Alternative practice settings: Why I got liability insurance

In this past, this dental hygienist always felt comfortable being covered by her practice's umbrella insurance. But that's changed as she's moved into an alternative practice setting. Here's why she would buy it even if she was still working in a traditional practice.

Content Dam Diq Online Articles 2017 07 Ericks Liability Diqthumb

Editor’s note: Amy Ericks, RDH, BSDH, is in the process of pursuing a career in collaborative practice outside the dental practice. You can follow her journey beginning here.

In the last article I wrote, you read about how I got to provide exams to patients for the first time. I was so very excited to be seeing patients that I could not wait to talk about that experience. Before that could happen, there are a couple important things that needed to transpire.

There is nothing like waiting on a decision to be made by someone else. This process has time and again encouraged me to practice patience. When I began this journey I made a timeline goal for when I wanted things to be in place. I knew that the process would take some time, so I thought that I would set a reasonable goal of two years to be able to actually be in a care facility and treating patients. As I write this, we are going on eight months since I seriously started down this path. Some days I am excited about how quickly things are going, and some days I am a bit frustrated by those things that take more time. Some of that frustration stems from the limitations that I have as a dental hygienist and feeling like I am unable to provide my best care and information to patients without restrictions. That is another aspect of this journey that I will have to discuss later.

At this time I was waiting to hear from my state board of dentistry. They have a quarterly meeting during which they review applications such as mine. It was a Friday, and I was at work, which is a good thing—because otherwise I would be staring at the clock all day, waiting for a phone call. I did manage to find a moment midday to call and inquire if they were finished meeting and what the decision was. With the meeting still in full swing and likely to last all day, it was looking like there was going to be a long weekend in front of me.

I didn’t hear that Friday, and it was a long weekend, Monday was a holiday, so I waited some more. Tuesday finally rolled around and I received the phone call I had been waiting for! I had been approved, pending a couple of minor changes to the services list that I proposed. So here I go, moving forward.

I first contacted the care facility to tell them that they could start letting the families of the residents know that the services would be available soon. We had collectively decided to send out some information by mail to all the families. I spent some time drafting an informative letter, consent forms, and a patient information request. The facility sent out the information, and we waited, again. In the meantime, I still had many other aspects of this project that I had been working on, so certainly I had enough to keep me busy.

I applied for liability insurance, something that I had not done previously while working clinically. I had always felt like I would be adequately covered under the office’s umbrella. I feel now that was a bit naïve, and liability insurance should have been something that I did for myself each year. I think of it now in the same way as I think of going to the chiropractor: I am protecting myself from poor ergonomics and investing in my body so that I can continue to practice.

The liability insurance is my way of investing in my license. I will always have my patient’s best interest at heart and my intentions will always be to provide the best care that I can, but some things are unforeseen and I would like to have some protection for those unforeseen moments. I feel more comfortable knowing that I have myself and my license protected.

I was still working on acquiring some of the additional equipment and supplies, and as I have previously mentioned, I have been so very humbled by the generosity of my community and dental product companies. I had received a donation of a cordless hygiene handpiece from iStar. Locally, I have been donated a self-contained portable piezo as well. I am so grateful for access to this equipment. I was searching for a rolling storage chest so that I can transport all of my equipment between the facility and my sponsoring office, as well as a few other smaller items. It seems that for every couple of items that I crossed off my list, I thought of another that I should have as well.

While I was very eager to just jump in and start treating these patients, I had to keep in mind that this process needs time to progress. I wanted to be prepared and successful. When I finally did see my first patient and saw this journey develop, I wanted it to be successful and obviously beneficial to these residents, the staff, the families and the community. Please continue to follow me on my journey, and if you would like to reach out with questions or comments, I can be reached at amyericks@yahoo.com.

Follow Amy’s journey into collaborative practice:

Part one: ‘I hope to end up in a nursing home’: Dental hygiene career alternatives

Part two: Pursuing collaborative practice 'out of the goodness of your heart'

Part three: The logistics of alternative practice settings: Nursing homes

Part four: The logistics of alternative practice settings: Finding a collaborative dentist

Part five: Patiently waiting: Education with the kids while transitioning in dental hygiene career

Part six: Alternative practice settings: Providing exams in a nursing home


Editor's note: This article first appeared in RDH eVillage. Click here to subscribe.


For the most current dental headlines, click here.



Amy Ericks, RDH, BSDH, is currently transitioning offices and preparing to pursue a dream. She graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science in dental hygiene. Five years of experience, two houses, one more child, and several internet classes later, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in dental hygiene. She is excited to share her journey.

More in Career Development