The Mesa Dental Hygiene program was recently honored by Arizona’s Smokers’ Helpline (ASHLine), a free resource that helps smokers quit tobacco, for the number of referrals they send to the program. As part of the honor, they were asked to feature in a photo shoot for an advertisement in Phoenix Magazine later in the year.
The Mesa campus’ free public dental hygiene clinic, which gives students hands-on experience on campus as part of their degree program, was so successful in referring patients to the helpline that ASHLine is creating a new referral category focused exclusively on educational institutions. Their hope is to encourage like-minded schools to follow the Carrington College Mesa campus’ lead.
In addition to helping smokers quit, ASHLIine offers free training and technical assistance to health care providers statewide, as the “Top Oral Health and Dental Office for Referrals in Maricopa County.”
How Does the Partnership Work?
Dental Hygiene program students look at a patient’s medical history to see if they smoke, then they simply ask if they are interested in quitting. Carrington student, and ASHLine team captain Narmin Mustafa, says: “We explain to our patients how oral health is related to the body’s systemic health, and if a patient is interested in quitting, we refer them to the ASHLine program.”
Clinic manager Beth Lakefield estimates that nearly 90% of the patients the students see are smokers, giving the students a face-to-face opportunity to make a lifesaving impact on their patients every week. “They save lives. They improve not only their patients’ oral health, but their overall health tenfold when the tobacco user quits,” says Carolyn Holman, tobacco program coordinator for the Office of Oral Health.
When ASHLine connected with the Mesa campus, Lakefield knew they had to step up and use their opportunity to make a difference. And make a difference, they did!
“When individuals who smoke get the education of how harmful smoking can be, they’re more open to quitting, or at least looking into quitting,” said Lakefield. “Patients have told us they’ve quit because of ASHLine.”