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How One Hygienist Changes the Lives of Underserved Patients | Christine Stephan, MS, RDH, CCHW

Chrissy’s inspirational journey from dental hygiene to public health advocacy embodies a relentless pursuit of accessible dental care. Transitioning from private practice to directing educational resources at McMillen Health, she champions oral health education for underserved communities. Chrissy’s unwavering commitment to bridging care gaps, evident in initiatives like Oral Health Recovery for incarcerated individuals, serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration in the dental profession. Her passion for equitable healthcare and tireless advocacy embodies the essence of service and empowerment, leaving a lasting impact on those she serves.

Chrissy chose to become a dental hygienist while in high school based upon it being a profession that minimally required an associate’s degree and that it was a profession that paid well. She initially went to school for dental assisting. Chrissy discovered as a dental assisting student that she loved the dental field and enjoyed learning about the importance of good oral health. After she graduated from high school she completed her prerequisites for the dental hygiene program and upon completing dental hygiene school immediately began working on her bachelor’s degree.

Public Health and a Nonprofit

She enjoyed working in private practice but wanted to do more. She decided that teaching would be a great next step so she went to school for her master’s degree. Chrissy applied for a full-time teaching position however she did not attain the position. At that time a position opened up at a public health clinic in Fort Wayne as a dental hygiene coordinator. She fell in love with public health while working at that clinic. She felt that it was a calling to serve people however after years of working there she felt burnt out.

She left the public health clinic and began working at McMillen Health which was her dream job. McMillan Health is a nonprofit education center that has an oral health curriculum. She has been able to provide vital effective oral health education to demographics that are in need and have lower income. As the director of educational resources, she is able to share oral health education in a way that populations can understand and find value in their healthcare needs.

Increasing Access to Care

She is passionate about finding ways for underserved populations to be able to receive good quality care that they need. She recognizes that there are so many variables that impact why certain demographics do not receive the care that they need. She looks for ways to assist the community in receiving the care that they need by bridging the gaps that limit care. One way that she helps facilitate this is through the program Oral Health Recovery that helps educate incarcerated individuals to learn about oral healthcare.

Her passion for helping others is infectious as she advocates for underserved populations to get the care that they need. She truly lives the dental hygienist oath “to continually improve my professional knowledge and skill, to render a full measure of service to each patient entrusted in my care.” Her commitment to educating and persistence in removing barriers to care is an inspiration to us all.

Learn more about Christine Stephan and her work by visiting her profile.

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Kari Carter-Cherelus

Kari Carter-Cherelus RDH, DA is an internationally known public speaker, consultant, author, a writer, and a clinician with 25 years in the dental industry. She authored the book The Ultimate Guide for Dental Hygienist Burnout to help dental hygienists in all stages of their career. She uses her platform as Founder of KMC Strategic Solutions to help improve the work culture in teams and organizations as well as to coach individuals.



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