Showing Leadership

Has Dental Champions had an impact on your life or career?  For many, the leadership experience, whether at through the Colorado Springs Center’s for Creative Leadership or Wichita’s Kansas Leadership Center, has provided an opportunity for a transformative experience.  Krista Hahn, a member of Dental Champions Class 5 was gracious to share her story with us. After reading, think about the questions we’ve asked at the end.

Krista Hahn: Dental Champion Pioneer

As a Dental Hygienist working in Private Practice I always thought, am I really making a difference? Transitioning from Private Practice to Director of Dental Hygiene to start an AAS Dental Hygiene Program from ground zero in 2009, my personal goal was to make an impact on my profession. In 2011 Oral Health Kansas encouraged me to join the Dental Champions Program. At the time I did not expect much more than a great networking opportunity. I soon learned that my Dental Champions experience would change my career and my entire life.

IMG_8919As the class progressed our sessions became very involved, full of information, and motivating. We learned how to engage others, be positive motivators, and step outside the box to make change. Included in our course work was Coaching through Kansas Leadership Center. Coaches were designed to facilitate, not direct. In conversation and multiple sessions with my coach I practiced what I was taught during the Dental Champions Sessions. The biggest impact came when I realized that over the course of my 8 years as a dental hygienist I had forgotten the most important aspect of my life. As a person with a strong work ethic I had forgotten my foundation, my family. At the time, I was working over 60 hours per week, dedicated to my career and not living healthy. How can a person, working excessive hours who is unhealthy make an impact? My life took a turn for the best shortly after my person reflection of myself.

Sitting in the background this entire time was Community Health Ministry—just 1 short mile from my home. A non-profit safety net clinic serving the indigent population nestled in the Flint Hills. They were seeking a part-time director for their community dental program. My husband had recently graduated from KSU Vet Med and so I felt a calling to find a happy balance between work and family.  In April 2012 I had an ‘aha’ moment and took a huge jump. I passed my pride and joy, the Dental Hygiene Program, on to a colleague and was now a Dental Director for Community Health Ministry. My experience as a Dental Champion gave me the confidence I needed to make this change, and looking back now, making an even larger impact on my career and my life.

I have realized that my work experiences and my time in the Dental Champions Program prepared me to serve at Community Health Ministry. As a private practitioner I learned my practical skills as a hygienist, as the Director of Dental Hygiene I activated my teaching skills and honed my administrative skills, and now at Community Health Ministry I am utilizing all of my skills and expertise to be a leader within this organization and move it to the next level. I have learned to engage others, utilize their expertise, encourage, and empower my colleague’s thus making positive change toward growth as individuals and make change in our rural communities. CHM’s mission is to empower community to achieve whole person wellness. Using our mission minded service to create a bridge for those unable to access care we believe we are a diamond in the rough. Stretching far and wide in rural Kansas we are making an impact.

What is the secret? How does a small community dental program grow over 300% in one year? My secret is that I engage those with expertise and passion while utilizing the best aspects of each individual—thus maximizing the results. Our program would not be so progressive without the amazing staff and volunteers that serve its clients.

To bridge the gap in oral health you must have passion and be willing to help us move mountains.

As a Dental Champion and a Pioneer I am making a difference by helping to change Kansas one mouth at a time!

Questions to Consider

Krista’s story demonstrates that for some, the Dental Champions was a transformative experience. Think how Dental Champions shaped your perspective of your work or yourself. Oral Health Kansas has identified three “Theories of Change.”

1)Can you identify how her work improved geographic access to providers?

2) Sometimes payment for services is less important of a reward than the help you have given others. Krista told us that helping others was more important. Can you think of a project you have worked on in your life where knowing you made a difference is more valuable than financial?

3) How has Krista’s work helped change the oral health behaviors of the community in which she works?