Jennifer Hasch, MPH, RDH - March 21, 2022

Women Who Have Inspired Me

I believe success is where passion and purpose overlap. I am fortunate enough to have found a career path that speaks to my personal, professional, and spiritual values. Every successful woman I know has two things in common. First, other women poured into them. We have strong women leaders lifting us up, forging a path, and sharing wisdom and connections along the way. Secondly, a commitment to give back in the same way women gave to them.

For us to stand in our strength and live out our gifts, we have been supported by other women. In that same vein, we know the importance of investing our time through mentorship and guidance to those who follow us. Successful women seek out meaningful partnerships and guides along their journey, while holding the door open and strategically connecting their network for succession and recruitment. We live in the present, as a living bridge from our predecessors to our future colleagues.

I was at a dentist appointment in my mid-twenties chatting with my hygienist about my future as she cleaned my teeth. Monnie had been taking care of my family and me for decades. She was warm and kind and always felt like a safe confidant. She suggested I investigate dental hygiene as a career pathway. She explained the financial stability and opportunities it had afforded her as a woman and mother. She suggested I come shadow her any time and commented on my smile and personality as being perfect for the career.

She planted a seed I had never considered, made it approachable through shadowing, and encouraged me in my schooling along my journey. She didn’t know that I had been on medical/dental missions as a teen, and that the impact of seeing children smile after their first cleaning had inspired me. It was all coming together to feel like a calling on my life. Before she passed in 2020, she was still a mentor to me. She connected me to ADHA leadership within our local component and was always a phone call or text away whenever I had a clinical question or needed to vent about office politics. She was a mentor and a friend. She loved her career and her patients deeply.

I didn’t know then that my career would lead to community-based dentistry, a Master’s in Public Health, and a certificate in non-profit administration. I currently serve as the Dental Director for Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center in West Louisville. Our city still suffers from the impact of segregation, the neglect of black neighborhoods, and the disinvestment and inequities that persist for health access and outcomes. There is a twelve-year difference in life expectancy from our poorest to most wealthy zip codes in the same county. Our organization proudly serves the community with medical, dental, mental, spiritual and community resources. We are a one stop shop for health, and we work to coordinate quality and affordable healthcare, regardless of insurance status or the ability to pay.

As a dental hygienist in the non-profit sector, I have coordinated dental student and dental hygiene student rotations from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry (my alma mater, Go Cards!) since 2018. I have developed and improved our school-based program, which serves 10 community schools within an 8-mile radius of our office. I have secured funding and managed a full renovation to our office valuing over $500,000.

Everyone deserves access to high quality care from a culturally representative team. It is now my duty to inspire and empower our patients and neighbors in this community to look at dental careers as their future. This could be the kindergartener during our classroom education outreach, the highschooler getting their teeth cleaned this summer, or our dental hygiene students who may be struggling with their confidence. Oral health is health, and I will continue to take what my mentors taught me and pass it right on down to the next generation of women leaders in dentistry. We need each other.

- Jennifer Hasch, MPH, RDH

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