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A Tale of Two Hygienists Podcast

Apr 28, 2021

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Jessica Atkinson, MEd, BSDH, RDH, and Melia Lewis, MEd, BSDH, RDH of ‘Hygiene Edge’ co-host the podcast this week, and welcome Dr. Lisa Welch to discuss what steps Dental Hygiene Educators can take to increase cultural competency. Very much an expert in this field, Dr. Welch holds an Associates in Dental Hygiene from DSU Dixie state university, a BS Hons Applied Biology: Biochemistry from Lancashire Polytechnic UK, her Masters' in Dental Hygiene from Idaho State University, and her Doctorate in Education for Health Professions from A. T. Still University of Health Sciences. Dr. Welch brings her vast amount of expertise to the conversation today, delving into the minority health disparities which exist today, and looking at ways to bring about change in this area.


Our hosts begin by sharing some startling statistics from the CDC and Dr. Welch’s own research regarding these disparities, uncover her reasons for pursuing this research, and reviewing her Cultural Competency Assessment and its findings. Together with Dr. Welch, they go on to share ideas about bridging the gap between awareness and implementation of cultural competency through some valuable resources, core curriculum changes, clinic experiences, cultural assessments and behaviors, and, above all, making connections. Concluding with a summary of steps that can be implemented immediately, today’s episode presents the perfect combination of a statistical, theoretical, and thoroughly practical analysis of this critical public health issue, providing listeners with both a foundation of understanding and a call to action.





Interview starts: 2:45


  •   Some CDC statistics regarding health disparities among minority populations
  •   Why Dr. Welch chose cultural competency for her doctorate degree
  •   Her research and statistics
  •   The Cultural Competency Assessment and its results
  •   Ideas on how to bridge the gap between awareness and implementation
  •   The Think Cultural Health website
  •   Building cultural competency into core curriculum
  •   Enhancing cultural competency through clinic experiences
  •   Examples of implementing cultural concept behaviors
  •   Melia’s example of a cultural competence concern
  •   Cultural barriers
  •   High and low context culture
  •   Cultural assessments
  •   Building connections through culturally competent behaviors
  •   A summary of practical steps to begin taking immediately





“You have to start by teaching the educators.”


“We just have to try and do the best we can and learn as much as we can about other people's backgrounds so we can associate and be empathetic and understand their challenges more.”


“We're not getting to the people who need us the most.”


“One of the ways that cultural competency is increasing is with experience.”


“As an educator, if you're not even aware for yourself you can't provide those experiences to your students.”


“If I never had these culture experiences before, the whole appointment could have just gone haywire.”


“One of the biggest areas we're going to face in the U. S. is a language barrier.”


“It's very important to understand that not everybody thinks and feels the same way as you do.”


“You can't speak every language, you can't know every nuance about every culture, but you need to be sensitive that there are differences and at least be aware and make an effort and know where the resources are. And that's the cultural behavior aspect.”


“Whatever language, if you just know a little bit it makes the biggest difference. If you can say ‘Thank you’ or ‘I was happy to be with you’, things like that make a huge difference.”


“I can't give you literature to say this has been done and it works because it's not out there.”


“Everyone in the world just needs to have a little bit more culture competency to our neighbors and our communities and our friends.”





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PDT Homepage


Investigation of the Cultural Competence of Dental Hygienists Practicing in a Region of Low Diversity


Think Cultural Health Homepage