From Insurance to Dentistry: Instructor Finds Path

June 22, 2022


Lisa Johnson finds nothing more fulfilling than helping others improve their state of health. It was for that reason that she went into the field of dentistry.

Joining Blackhawk in 2020 as the Dental Hygienist program’s Lead Instructor, she was also tasked with developing a new Dental Hygienist program, which is slated to start in Fall 2022.

Growing up in Marinette, Lisa graduated from UW-Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology before working in insurance marketing. It was while working with group dental insurance that she discovered an interest in the dental field.

After returning to school for Dental Hygiene at Madison College, Lisa worked at the school as a supplemental instructor for Microbiology and Anatomy & Physiology courses. That’s when she discovered her passion for teaching and knew that she was ultimately bound for a career in education.

Working as a dental hygienist clinician for several years, Lisa then graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a Master of Science degree in Dental Hygiene Education.

With seven years of experience as a clinical dental hygienist with a focus on pediatric and special needs dentistry, Lisa also brings additional knowledge from her work in the dental insurance industry.

“It gives me a unique perspective on dental benefit plans and an understanding of the barriers that often arise between dental providers, patients and benefit carriers,” she said.

During her time in the field, Lisa has seen the ever-changing landscape bring new materials, techniques and technologies that make dentistry safer, more comfortable and effective. She’s able to give her students hands-on training and experience in the school’s dental education clinic and lab facilities with high-tech equipment and instruments.

The pandemic has posed a significant risk of respiratory contagions. This is nothing new to the dentistry field, which led to finding new ways to overcome and mediate that risk. However, it also led to many dental professionals retiring or transitioning to non-clinical, leaving clinics grossly understaffed.

“In the aftermath of COVID-19, one of our biggest challenges is educating new, competent dental auxiliaries to repopulate an inadequate workforce—and that’s where we come in at BTC!” she said.

With demand for dental professionals at an all-time high, Lisa urges her students to explore and research many different clinics throughout their education as every specialty and clinic is a little different.

She hopes that her students apply their critical thinking skills as they enter the world of dental health care providers.

“Every patient’s history, habits and current oral conditions tell a story, but you have to be able to connect those dots,” she said.

Away from the classroom, Lisa lives near Madison with her husband, two teenage children and two dogs. With work and school keeping their schedules busy, they do find some time to hike, bike, kayak and travel when they can. Lisa also enjoys cooking, reading and playing the ukulele.

Oral Health Month is observed throughout the month of June. It is supported by the American Dental Association and serves as a reminder of the importance of good oral hygiene.

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