Meet Aurora Dental Hygienist Amber Klingaman RDH, BSDH
Jun. 1, 2018
Since graduating, she's worked at Midtown Dental, a private general practice. She works with three dentists and three other hygienists. The office is, according to Klingaman, well-established and incredibly busy.
We got to sit down and talk with this proud alumna about her experience at Concorde Career College and what lead her to pursue her to become a Dental Hygienist.
Her journey to becoming a Concorde DH
I actually got into dentistry by accident. I was working at a dental office as the front desk receptionist, and they were making some changes with people and positions. The office manager told me there were too many people working the front desk and offered me a position in the back to train as a dental assistant. I accepted, but I was furious. I thought, "I will never put my fingers in someone else's mouth. That's disgusting!"
I went home that evening and wrote my resignation letter. Fortunately, my father reminded me how much I love biology and dissecting things and encouraged me to just give it a try. So I did.
My first time ever assisting happened to be an extraction case, and there was blood everywhere. It was disgusting, and it was awesome! That's when I fell in love with dentistry. I ended up working as a dental assistant for four years and then decided I wanted more.
I honestly don't remember inquiring about going to Concorde, but a representative from Concorde called me one day and asked if I would be interested in the dental hygiene program. Of course, I said, "Yes!" and one thing led to another. Not long after that, I found myself sitting in a Concorde classroom that I would basically call home for the next 18 months.
Dental hygiene school is hard, but I had a wonderful experience at Concorde and truly loved every minute of dental hygiene school. My colleagues think I'm crazy, but I believe in embracing new challenges and having fun while doing it.
Did you have any challenges to overcome in pursuing your goals?
This is a great question, as I had a major obstacle that I had to overcome in order to finish the program. I had to withdraw for six months due to personal and family issues. I started with Cohort 3 and graduated with Cohort 4.
When I withdrew, I didn't know if I would ever be able to come back. There are no guarantees, and I took a huge risk. While I was away, I kept in close contact with my campus administrators and instructors and continued to study everything I had learned. I had to take several tests to "test back in." I would not recommend students take this route, although I'm grateful it all worked out for me in the end.
What's a fond memory from your Concorde experience?
I had a lot of good memories during my time at Concorde, but if I had to narrow it down I would say it would be during clinic time when an instructor worked with me until "it clicked." The instructors I had at Concorde went above and beyond to mold us into the best dental hygienists we could be. When learning a highly technical, fine motor skill that is clinical dental hygiene, those "Aha!" moments are priceless.
I also enjoyed the countless hours we spent "camped out" in the classroom during lectures. The class was small enough that we could have open discussions about the material, and my class really worked well together.
What's it like being a Dental Hygienist?
It's hard to believe I get paid to do what I do every day! I look forward to going to work. Granted, it is hard work and some days are more challenging than others; but, I can genuinely say I am passionate about my profession. I sincerely care about people, and I care deeply about oral health. Every day, I get to interact with people (many whom I've come to know on a personal level) and do something positive for their health.
I feel like I have the best of many worlds. I get to be an educator. I get to play detective. I get to be a motivator. I get to be a healthcare provider. And more often than not, I get to know my patients on a personal level and get to be a friend.
If I had to name one thing I didn't like about being a dental hygienist, it would be that it is very taxing on the body. So it's important to find a healthy work schedule so as not to overdo it. Overall, being a dental hygienist is incredibly rewarding for countless reasons, and I truly do leave the office each day with a smile on my face.
Have you gone back and gotten further education or certifications?
I sure did! I am graduating this spring from Minnesota State University (MSU), Mankato with a Bachelors of Science in Dental Hygiene. I took one year off after dental hygiene school and then went back to do an online degree completion program, which is an outstanding program. I highly recommend MSU, Mankato.
For my final education practicum at MSU Mankato, I had to student-teach a lecture. I have kept in touch with the Dental Hygiene program at Concorde and got to return to my old stomping grounds to student-teach Cohort 10!
Concorde has a very special place in my heart, and it meant a lot to me to return and stand on the other side of the podium. The Dental Hygiene faculty at Concorde has been so supportive and helpful in the pursuit of my BS degree.
Parting words, what's the best advice you've ever been given?
"Damn the torpedoes, and full speed ahead", per my WWII Purple Heart Marine Grandfather. If you want to learn more about what it takes to become a Dental Hygienist or any of our other health care career programs, contact Concorde today!