Establishing a Career in Dental Hygiene Education
Growing up in the small Ohio town of Steubenville, Amy Molnar, ’13 BSDH, ’15 MDH, always knew she wanted to attend Ohio State. She also knew she wanted to teach. After taking a job at the College of Dentistry as an undergraduate, Molnar — who was intrigued by the work she saw in the student dental clinics — decided to pursue a career in dental hygiene. That meant putting aside her dream of teaching. Or so she thought.
“I think it was during my first year in the Dental Hygiene program at Ohio State when I heard about the new Master’s in Dental Hygiene (MDH) program at the college,” Molnar said. “When I learned the program would start the year I graduated, I thought, ‘I’m going to do that!’”
The MDH program gives dental hygienists the knowledge and experience to teach in a dental hygiene program. Once Molnar graduated with her bachelor’s degree in spring 2013, her husband’s career took them to New Jersey where she secured a dental hygiene position in a periodontal specialty office. A few months into her new job, she began Ohio State’s MDH program online.
Molnar continued to work full-time while completing her master’s degree — an opportunity she sees as a real benefit of the online program. “Ohio State does a good job of connecting with students through online platforms,” she said. “They use a lot of technologies to make you feel like you know your faculty members.”
Molnar’s primary job now is teaching clinical and didactic courses in the dental hygiene program at Rowan College at Burlington County in New Jersey and, additionally, she continues to work as a dental hygienist. Wanting to maintain ties to her alma mater, Molnar also teaches bachelor’s and master’s online dental hygiene classes for Ohio State.
“I feel like the master’s program taught me modern, evidence-based teaching practices that I use every day as an educator. I am constantly reminded of the active teaching strategies that I try to incorporate heavily in
my didactic courses. When teaching in the clinic, I remember the strategies I learned about questioning
skills and promoting critical thinking, as well as giving effective feedback.”
While Molnar ultimately plans to teach full-time, now she is enjoying both of her chosen careers. “The Dental Hygiene Master’s program bridged the gap between doing something I love — dental hygiene — and being able to do what I always wanted to do, which is to be a teacher.
“What I like most about working as a clinician in a periodontal office is being able to use my skills to help people maintain, and sometimes even save, their teeth. What I like best about teaching is seeing students’ progress. I’ve had the privilege of teaching first-year pre-clinical courses, where we literally started the students with a mirror in the mouth, and progressed them to 12 instruments in one semester. I enjoyed seeing them grow in their confidence and their skills.”