Reconnecting Practicing Hygienists with the Nation's Leading Educators and Researchers.

Expanding the Opportunities for Dental Careers

Rico Maria Breznau, MA, RDH, RDA, CDA, steps up to the plate to help Northern Michigan attract dental professionals.

As a high school student, Rico Maria Breznau, MA, RDH, RDA, CDA, enjoyed spending her summers working for her local dentist in a suburb about 40 minutes from Detroit. Experiencing a deep sense of accomplishment after helping people to smile confidently, she was hooked. After beginning as a dental assistant, Breznau went on to become a dental hygienist, which gave her the flexibility she needed to start a family.

For more than 40 years, she has followed her passion in the dental field. A lifelong learner, Breznau has continued her education over the years, achieving a license in dental hygiene and as a registered dental assistant, and earning a master’s degree in management.

After surviving cancer via a successful bone marrow transplant, she returned to dentistry but was looking for a new opportunity. Today, she works for a dental organization dedicated to offering underserved patients an option for professional oral healthcare.

Recently, Breznau was offered the chance to lead a new fast-track dental assisting program in Northern Michigan. “My hope is that I can now pass along some of the experiences and the knowledge I have accumulated to another generation of compassionate dental professionals to continue building smiles and futures,” Breznau mused.

Breznau shared some thoughts about addressing the shortage of oral health professionals in Northern Michigan with Sunstar Ebrief.

  1. What challenges are currently present within the dental professional workforce in Northern Michigan?

As with most industries post-Covid, dentistry is struggling to find employees. Northern Michigan also lacks any local dental training programs from which to pull employees. The closest dental hygiene program is more than 2 hours away and the only dental assisting program is for registered dental assistants. North Central Michigan College has decided to fill the need for a local training option for prospective dental professionals in our area.

  1. How will the fast-track dental assisting program help address these challenges?

The goal of the fast-track dental assisting program is to help people with no dental experience gain hands-on training that will allow them to confidently apply for dental assistant or clerical positions in the dental setting. The hope is that many of our graduates will then pursue further education in the dental field, helping to fill the need for registered dental assistants, registered dental hygienists and dentists.

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