Being Part of a Community is Biggest Blessing for Milton Hershey School Dental Hygienist
By Beth Zimmerman, MHS Dental Hygienist
When I was 16, I decided I wanted to become a dental hygienist. In this role at Milton Hershey School, I clean teeth, take x-rays, do sealants, and teach the students proper mouth hygiene. Taking care of their mouth takes care of their body, which is what we call whole child care.
Our founders Milton and Catherine Hershey saw the importance of the whole child approach more than a hundred years ago. They wanted to take care of the entire student.
Here in Elementary Division, we have a medical-dental suite. If we have a problem we see in dental, we can walk the student right over to medical. They do the same with us. We also contact Home Life, psychology, or any other department to make sure the student’s needs are met holistically. We work together as a community of staff to meet those needs.
MHS is the ultimate place to work as a dental hygienist. It’s a clean and safe environment, and it’s a family – from food services and transportation to clothing and more. There’s no place like MHS.
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many things were already in place for us at MHS. We’ve always been very conscious of being cleanly. I believe MHS is doing the best it can to take care of us as health care workers so we can continue to take care of our students. That’s just the kind of community we are at MHS.
Before I came to MHS, I worked at two local community health centers and on a mobile bus. Between those centers, I covered four counties and also developed an oral health curriculum for a mobile bus program in the city of Philadelphia. On the bus, we went over the entire county taking care of community dental needs. Through that experience, I made connections that led me to MHS.
Working at MHS is a blessing. All of the things that I loved about working in community dentistry happen here. You can see the students as they advance from elementary to middle to high school. You get to know them and impact their lives.
When I am working in the Middle Division dental clinic and see the reaction of our fifth-graders, I’m reminded of the impact I’m making. Middle school can be challenging as students make that transition from elementary school. When our Middle Division students see a familiar face in the dental clinic, they get so excited. They will say, “I’m so happy to see you. I’m so happy to see somebody I know from elementary school.” That’s when I know I’ve made a difference in our students’ lives.