Lauren Harlow had her mind pretty much made up that dental hygiene was the career for her by the time she participated in the Health Science Technology Program at River Bend Career and Technical Center. Her experience at the Center made it even more clear that she was headed in the right direction. Lauren graduated from the Center’s Health Science Technology Program in 2011, as well as graduating from Oxbow High School that same year!
Lauren’s focus on dental care started years before coming to high school when Dr. Jim Barton, of Bradford, found that she had questions about what a dental hygienist did for work, how a person received the needed training and license, and what it would be like to be in a dental office. “Dr. Jim” took an interest in her curiosity and during her middle school years, gave her the opportunity to “shadow” in his office many times. This experience really helped Lauren set a goal and a direction in her life! Lauren’s experience is a wonderful example as to how important it is to explore all of the options a person is interested in as early as possible. That early focus has helped to move Lauren to where she is today!
In high school, Lauren was able to take challenging courses and also add to her transcript with college classes that she took outside of school, on her own. In her senior year, she completed a course in microbiology, an anatomy and physiology class, and a college level English class, all through Community College of Vermont (CCV). Her River Bend class, although geared mainly toward nursing, gave her experience with medical terminology, a great dental shadowing experience, and additional experience on her college applications.
After graduation, Lauren attended Vermont Technical College’s Dental Hygiene two-year program in Williston, Vermont. The program was very rigorous, but Lauren was up to the challenge! Study, practice and more study became the pattern for Lauren as she balanced a new environment, difficult classes and demanding clinical assignments. Hygienists in the Vermont Technical College also become certified in administering local anesthetics, so learning to administer anesthesia to her classmates, as well as probing and exploring in mouths with real instruments, was also an adjustment! Graduating in 2013, having made the VTC Dean’s List every semester, Lauren was ready for the work as a dental hygienist.
Since graduating, Lauren has worked in private dental practices. As she worked, she found that a new mission was developing in her mind and heart. She was able to see, first hand, the importance of good oral hygiene and the effect dental health has on the overall health of a person. So, in 2018, Lauren joined the staff at Little Rivers Health Care (LRHC) as a public health dental hygienist. LRHC is located in Bradford, Vermont, East Corinth, Vermont, and Wells River, Vermont. Little Rivers has a mission of providing high quality, comprehensive primary care for individuals and families, regardless of their ability to pay for the services. They are what is known as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
The fact that a FQHC has a public health dental hygienist on board is relatively new in Vermont, so in some ways, Little Rivers and Lauren are charting new territory. The Health Center, in Plainfield, Vermont is a step or two ahead of Little Rivers with their development of a similar position, so they are a large help to Lauren in developing this program.
As well as working with patients, Lauren’s new role finds her speaking in schools (she recently spoke with students in her old classroom to the Health Science Technology Program at River Bend Career and Technical Center!), nursing homes and providing school-based clinical services. Her purpose in this new position is to “promote good oral hygiene so that everyone understands the necessity and importance of good oral health to the overall wellbeing of each individual”. What a wonderful mission and what a wonderful asset Lauren is to our community!