Nothing happens in our comfort zone: The sweat equity of an auger

Feb. 26, 2018
Elicia Lupoli, RDH, profiles the young dental hygiene career of Amber Auger, RDH.

By Elicia Lupoli, RDH, BSDH

In dental hygiene, there are devoted individuals who respect the licensure they worked so hard to obtain and also refrain from publicly bashing the profession. The decision to showcase a few of the most successful dental hygienists was in hope for readers to understand that the journey to success is achievable, with a bit of footwork. Dental hygienists have demonstrated over and over again that (together) we can do anything.

Last week, we explored the mysterious world of dental coding with Patti DiGangi, RDH, who is the author of the Dental Codeology books.

In previous weeks, I profiled Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, a mother of a large Wisconsin family who yearned for something more from her career; Angie Stone, who found a niche in improving elder care in our nation’s nursing home; and Michelle Strange, RDH, and Andrew Johnston, RDH, who are famous as the podcasters behind “The Tale of Two Hygienists.”

This series of profiles concludes next week with insights from the “Trapped in an Op” moderator, Elijah Desmond, RDH.

Amber Auger: Hard work from the get-go

Amber’s initial footwork: Going to a convention and mingling.

On the opposite end of the generational bracket from Patti DiGangi (last week), there is Amber Auger, RDH, BSDH, MPH, who was born in 1988 and first licensed in 2010.

The one thing I have always said about Amber is this, “No matter when, where, or what time I have seen her, she always has a smile plastered on her face and appears as the most approachable female dental hygienist.” That should tell us something. My conversation with her was very uplifting and direct, which I always appreciate. When asking Amber when she first remembers wanting to dip into something other than clinical chair side, she answered that it was before she even “entered this field.” Amber came into dental hygiene with a musculoskeletal disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, a disorder that has impacted careers of many practicing dental hygienists.

While Amber continues to practice chairside two days a week, her mission has been public health, following the lead of her first mentor, Teal Mercer, RDH, MPH, from the University of New Haven.

“My first trip abroad was in Romania with Teal. I fell in love with impacting those without access to care. I witnessed the preventive impact that Teal made by returning to the village year after year,” Amber said. “If I could do public health every day for the rest of my life and make a career out of it, I would. Those trips reset me. They are my why. I would encourage others to get involved in changing people’s life by using our specific skills obtained from dental hygiene school. Working with many different cultures is challenging, and I love it. We go to remote areas, create a clinic out of nothing, and make it work optimally.”

In order to support her passion, Amber has found many other interests and roles to supplement with her knowledge. In 2015, Amber attended CareerFusion and began speaking. Amber’s achievements to date include being a writer, blogger, speaker, clinical business consultant, technology and branding consultant for a few companies, and a former instructor for UNH and Mount Ida.

Amber has also genially branded herself as the Millennial Mentor.

“There is a negativity surrounding the millennials,” she said. “As one myself, I want to end this negative perception. The contributions each generation has made and will make for others is evolution at its finest.” Speaking of evolution, Amber will be a featured speaker for the new and upcoming RDH Evolution.

When I asked Amber for a piece of advice for newer graduates and the dental hygienist who feels stuck or isolated she answered, “New grads: Get involved and find a mentor. RDH magazine has the digital RDH Graduate newsletter, which is relatable to all new grads. Constantly learn: Never lose your passion, and those RDHs who are stuck? Go to RDH Evolution in Rosemont, Illinois in April 2018.”

I asked her for one sentence that described what “everyone should know” about her.

"Sweat equity got me where I am,” she said. “I chose to be uncomfortable and to say yes to every opportunity possible. I have amazing mentors who help me navigate the business. It was not easy and continues to challenge me weekly, but I can say I truly love my career."