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The value of investing in learning & professional connections | Tina Clarke RDH, MEd, FADHA

Tina Clarke, of Teacher Tina, reflects on a 20+ year career spent taking risks, learning & teaching, and building connections that would propel her forward personally and professionally.

Tina Clarke RDH, MEd, FADHA, aka Teacher Tina, is a Professional Educator and a Local Anesthesia Enthusiast. She is from Oregon and is a practicing hygienist with over 20 years of experience. She was recently given the honor to join her fellow colleagues with the designation of Fellow with the American Dental Hygienists Association. She has been teaching for at least the past 16 years on local anesthesia techniques and she hopes you continue to follow your dreams and goals.

Why did you choose to teach local anesthesia?

After practicing clinical dental hygiene for approximately six years, she was antsy for more than clinical patient care. She researched other opportunities and roles that hygienists could be part of, and the world of education presented itself. She was given the opportunity to be the sole instructor for a group of hygiene students for a program that was the first of its kind. Two community colleges joined together to provide distance education to dental hygiene students. Even with a bit of intimidation, she didn’t give up. She really dove in and tried to learn more about how we learn, how we overcome our fears, and how we feel confident and comfortable administering local anesthesia.

Not giving up

While we may not always achieve our goals initially, it is something that we should all strive for and after talking with Tina, she had a great example related to a non-dental experience: Tina did not give up when she signed up for her first Sprint Triathlon with her husband. While the task was daunting, starting in the wrong direction and being kicked in the stomach while swimming in the race, Tina endured all the anguish and expectations she set for herself related to this event. After finishing the race, she didn’t realize until about a couple of years later that she had stolen all the joy out of the event because of her expectations instead of enjoying the moment. I highly recommend listening to the details of her story about this event.

What is one piece of advice you would give to hygienists?

Tina’s advice to everyone is something that she still grasps regularly for herself, “It’s okay not to be perfect.” She recommends being open-minded and to network because you never know what opportunities and people that will come across your path. She has been surprised to meet people nationwide and now worldwide. She believes it is important to develop connections and relationships with peers, and other professionals and learn from and support each other. You never know how you can impact someone’s life, whether a patient or colleague. For Tina, these connections provide joy and further ignite her passion for the dental hygiene field.

One more thing to remember…

“Don’t compare yourself to what others are doing.” “Celebrate the moments you’re in, and do not give up.” If you follow your dreams and goals, “it doesn’t have to be a big leap; it just needs to be a small step.”

Lacy Walker

LACY WALKER, RDH, BS, CDA, FAAOSH - dental hygienist, speaker, owner of Shared Hygiene, LLC, & writer w/ 25 years of experience in the dental field working in a psychiatric hospital, cosmetic, restorative, DSO, and periodontal practices. Lacy is the CE Director for A Tale of Two Hygienists podcast & Public Relations Chair for the AADH. She has a passion for the oral-systemic connection & is published in DACE, RDH Magazine, & DrBicuspid. Lacy is an approved provider of CE credits through AADH.



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