One of the perks of being a member of RDHAP Connect is being featured in a member spotlight on our website and social. Today we’re spotlighting Nicole F. Wendell.
Elena Francisco, RDHAP and creator of RDHAP Connect, interviewed Nicole about her practice and years of experience. Read on to learn more about Nicole!
My name is Nicole F. Wendell, RDHAP and I am the owner of Dental Hygiene In-Home. I am also a wife and mother of 3 grown daughters and I have lived in San Diego for 27 years.
I have had my mobile dental hygiene practice for 12 years. I have been a dental hygienist for almost 30 years! I happily service the Inland and Coastal communities in the North county of San Diego.
I attended dental hygiene school at The University of Tennessee, Memphis. I graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene.
I received my RDHAP training at The University of the Pacific in 2011.
I work full-time at my mobile practice. I travel to private residences, board and care homes, and large memory care and assisted living facilities. My practice consists of about 95% of frail and elderly patients with memory impairments.
I occasionally do in-service training with caregivers to help assist in maintaining good oral health for their patients. I always try to educate family members/POAs and caregiving staff whenever I see improvements that can be made with oral care.
I am fortunate that I have a wonderful mobile dentist that I regularly refer to when treatment is needed. There is only a couple of mobile Dentists in the San Diego area, who are spread very thin amongst the many large facilities in the area. I am fortunate to have a mobile dentist, Dr. Michelle K. Lim, DDS that comes down from Orange County to San Diego (about an hour away) whenever I need her! She is very conservative in her treatment, and I trust her my patients just love her! She is very supportive of me as well. She is always willing to share treatment records with me so that we can work as a team in ongoing patient care.
I am a fee-for-service provider. Patients pay privately, or if they have dental insurance that is PPO, I will file a claim for them and collect payment after the insurance has been paid.
I have many patients on either a four-month or less recall. I find that most of the time, daily oral care is not being done optimally, or at all. The shorter frequency of my services does seem to aid in maintaining oral health. I always apply a fluoride varnish at each prophylaxis appointment, regardless of the prophy frequency.
Once completing dental hygiene care for my patient, I provide a written report to the POA, initiate a referral if needed, and plan for the next recall with them.
After being mobile full-time for 12 years, I realize that as wonderful as a career this is, it is a lot of work! From scheduling to traveling, hauling heavy equipment, and physical exertion in working on sometimes difficult patients ( in awkward positions are not ideal for one’s body). Sterilization, record keeping, product ordering, billing, confirming appointments, and packing it all up to do again the next day! I wouldn’t change a thing! It is the most gratifying to me in all aspects.
Almost all of my new patients are referrals or by word of mouth. I have built relationships with memory care directors, doctors, nurses, social workers, friends and family members, fiduciaries, and dentists within the community. I try my best to always educate others about the necessity of mobile dental hygiene services to homebound and frail elderly.
I find that the patients I care for are usually ones that have always maintained their teeth throughout their lives, and that dental care has always been important to them. It is hard to see that most times once the patient becomes unable to care for their teeth, oral care is not optimal anymore when you must depend on another to provide daily oral care. That’s why I am happy to be able to be a part of their care team in helping to provide dental hygiene services in order for them to have the quality of life that ongoing dental maintenance can provide.
“Never lose sight of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how you treat other people- your family, friends, and coworkers, and even strangers you meet along the way.”
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