UOR profiles, part 8: Hygienists share what they like about career, personal time, and conference

Jan. 3, 2017
Three dental hygienists who attended the 2016 RDH Under One Roof (UOR) conference share insights about their careers and the dental hygiene conference.  

Carol Plucinsky, RDH

School: She is a 1983 graduate of Western Kentucky University.

Practices where: She has practiced in the office for Dr. Hal Kimowitz in Denville, N.J., for more than 30 years. “For the past 20 years, I have worked three days a week, which has been the perfect dental hygienist/mom schedule,” she said. “I was able to go to most of my sons’ athletic events through their high school years.”

Career highlights: “I love people and I love helping people. My great joy is helping someone very fearful to become comfortable in my chair. I have built relationships with many of my patients and in some cases treat three generations of the same families.”

Favorite patient: “I have a patient who was so fearful that, at his first appointment, he only made it to the waiting room where my employer sat with him and did a consultation. Future appointments were accomplished with baby steps, including full mouth debridement and root planing. Now 15 years later, he walks in smiling every three months. He does everything I ask of him with his home care. His mouth is spotless every time I see him, and he always thanks me for helping him to get to this level of comfort. He will only see me and will reschedule if something keeps me from being in the office on his scheduled day.”

Outside of work: She and her husband have three sons, all in their 20s.“Nothing makes me happier than times with us all together. We like to vacation at the beach in August just before the school year starts again. My oldest son teaches high school math and my youngest is a sophomore in college. My middle son graduated this past May and is an engineer. He can be away at construction sites at any given time, so we treasure the times we are all in one place. We laugh a lot. I love to watch baseball, the Yankees in particular, but will watch any good game. I also walk most evenings with my girlfriends. We have fun perfecting our selfie technique and take beautiful pictures of the sun setting over the lake in my neighborhood.”

How she reached decision to attend 2016 RDH Under One Roof: “I thought about going several times, but did not want to have to fly to a location. UOR was within driving distance from my home, and I had an old hygienist friend who wanted to go also. I am fortunate to work for a very generous dentist, and he paid for us to attend.”

Best UOR takeaway: “I think the keynote session by Colette Carlson was fantastic. I am a very optimistic and happy person by nature, but needed her reminders "to let it go" when something bothers you that you cannot change. I try to apply that daily, such as when the patient shows up 25 minutes late due to intense traffic, and I know my schedule will be shot for the rest of the day. This happens all the time in my area and we always see that late patient. Getting upset about it won't change a thing so I try to use humor to calm everyone down and never make a patient feel rushed.”


To read previously published RDH Under One Roof profiles, click on any of the links below.


Summer Soberanis, RDH

School: She graduated from Coastal Bend College in Beeville, Texas, in 2001. “I wanted to move away from the city (Houston) and thought, ‘Why not a small town where all I can do is study and stare at the cows!’ This is the same college where I took my prerequites and also was accepted to the dental hygiene program.”

Practices where: She returned to Houston after graduation, and has been in the practice for Dr. Charles Odell for more than 14 years.

Career highlights: “The hugs! Yes, the big hugs of gratefulness from patients when they notice the change in their gums, coaching them from inflammation levels to a very tight stippling gingival level.”

Favorite patient: “One interesting patient for me is a person who for several years, despite paying out of pocket, would come in every three months for his recare, kept up with his hygiene care, drove himself to dialysis three times a week, would ride his bicycle 30 minutes each day, and always left the office with a big happy smile. I had the privilege to be his dental hygienist until early this year when he went home to be with the Lord. I think about him often and probably always will because even though he was in his 90s, had health issues, and no dental insurance, that did not stop him from trying to maintain his oral care to the maximum care possible. Then I have these patients that bring up all kind of excuses. Sorry, but that won't work with me!”

Outside of work: “Dancing! My body, mind, and hair get very relaxed and free.”

How she reached decision to attend 2016 RDH Under One Roof: The decision to attend the RDH Under One Roof conference was easy. First of all, attending this year was important to me since RDH UOR was celebrating 15 years, and I graduated 15 years ago! I thought it would be a neat celebration in my career to see the conference grow each year. No one one brings down the roof like RDH UOR!”

Best UOR takeaway: “That I’m not alone. Being able to share and listen to other RDH’s clinical stories, as well as professional advice from colleagues. Each year, I am able to take back a little bit each time and share it with my boss. In turn, he pays for me to attend—not a bad deal”

Lisa Kallis RDH, LDH, BS

School: She is a 1987 graduate of Parkland College in Champaign, Ill.

Practices where: She is the director of hygiene at Heartland Dental in Effingham, Ill. During almost 30 years of dental hygiene, she has practiced in many locations throughout Illinois and Indiana.

Career highlights: “What is enjoy the most is learning every day from others. I have the opportunity to work with hundreds of clinicians throughout the country in continuing education courses, and they are constantly sharing new and updated ways to make patient care better every day. Then I get to share that with others!”

Favorite patient: “My most interesting patient was a middle-aged woman who for years wanted to change her smile, and she had crowding of her maxillary anterior teeth. For years, she was told she needed braces by her dentist, and she just was afraid of the pain and appearance as with her job she was in front of people every day. The doctor I was working with was very talented with aesthetics, and he was able to do a veneer case. I will never forget the day it was delivered! She still had a slight overbite, but he had told her that couldn’t be fixed. But to have straight front teeth changed her life.”

Outside of work: She enjoys boating, running, reading, and going to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games with her family. She also collects antique dishes and tea sets.

How she reached decision to attend 2016 RDH Under One Roof: “I have attended for years, and love the connection to others in the industry!”

Best UOR takeaway: “The networking is so important. Having spoken and attended classes at the conference, I have always walked away with so much enhanced knowledge gained from others. I love seeing the progressive passion of those attending who want to make the life of a dental hygienist better each day.”

For more information about RDH Under One Roof, click here.