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Dental hygiene provides ideal background to become a health coach

Dec. 15, 2011
Laurie Samuels, RDH, CHHC, believes that the dental hygienist, who understands inflammation and the oral-systemic link, has the perfect background for a career as a health coach. Samuels talks about her journey in gaining the skills to be a Certified Holistic Health Coach.
By Laurie Samuels, RDH, CHHC
I grew up in a family infused with illness. Heart disease was the most prevalent. We moved from one medical crisis to another and this unstable environment greatly affected my life. Dental hygiene school saved me. I know this is a bold statement, but this is the essence of how it all began. The truth is I did not know what I wanted to do when I graduated high school. I was accepted to the University of South Florida, but decided to go to the local community college first to "figure things out." I wanted a career and decided dental hygiene was a perfect fit for me. This turned out to be a fantastic decision and I am so grateful for the opportunities that have come my way because of this choice. A pivotal point in my life occurred at the end of anatomy and physiology when I realized that our bodies have the most amazing propensity to heal given the right environment. This was a concept I had never considered. Before that moment, I thought I was destined to follow in the unhealthy footsteps of my dad, aunts, uncles and, grandparents.
I began to exercise and meditate, experimented with a vegetarian lifestyle, jogged, and learned yoga. I felt great. My dad (and other relatives) continued on the downward spiral caused by their endless chronic inflammatory conditions. I was determined not to let history repeat itself, and I was sure that the choices I made daily regarding what I ate and how I treated my body would allow me to live a more vital and active life well into my 80s and 90s.
I started coaching my patients early in my career. I encouraged them to quit smoking, reduce their sugar intake, exercise and more, sharing what I knew with those interested. I also learned from all the patients who were so willing to share their stories with me. I wanted to advance my education, but traditional bachelor degree programs in nutrition did not appeal to me. I did not believe in the "Four Food Groups" and other pillars of the program. My search for an advanced education was achieved when I discovered the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). I wanted a school that cared about nutrition and clearly wanted to change the course of health care in this country. The IIN really understands the complexities that created obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions, which are prevalent today, and causes chaos in the lives of many. At IIN, we learned to think out of the box for the desperately needed solutions to fix these rampant problems. Did you know that Americans spend more per person for health care than any other country and yet we are ranked No. 27 in life expectancy just above Cuba?(1) This costs U.S. taxpayers and the government billions of dollars per year, and many premature deaths occur daily. The cost to our country, not only in dollars, is staggering.
Good health is something most people can achieve so that they can live the life they want, not a life created by circumstance. I believe more than ever that the body has the most amazing propensity to heal given the right conditions, and these “conditions” are really not that complicated. It is clear to me that an impassioned dental hygienist, who understands so well the concept of inflammation and the oral-systemic link, has the perfect background to become a Health Coach, possibly causing the most amazing ripple effect that starts with their patients, family, friends, community, and beyond. There are many ways a dental hygienist can add Health Coaching into their skill set. The only requirement is passion and desire. If you are interested in learning more, you can download the textbook written by Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, at no cost on my website.(2)
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (215) 499-7593. References
1. UC Atlas of Global Inequality, “Money Alone Does Not Save Lives”
Laurie Samuels, RDH, CHHC, is a dental hygienist and a Certified Holistic Health Coach. She graduated from dental hygiene school in 1976, and has more than 25 years of clinical experience. Laurie graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City in July 2010. Today, Laurie splits her time between managing a vibrant dental practice and working as a Health Coach.