The career of Jill Meyer-Lippert, RDH, spans nearly 30 years. She is the founder of Side Effect Support LLC, an online resource for patients with cancer and their families, caregivers, and healthcare providers to reduce the harmful oral side effects of treatments.
A graduate of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Dental Hygiene Program, Meyer-Lippert holds a certificate in oncology management, was a member of the inaugural class of the American Academy of Dental Oncology, and has authored articles in several dental and oncology publications. In addition, she provides educational and community relations services for Custom Dental Solutions as its community relations manager.
Highly regarded for her expertise, she is a member of the Registered Dental Hygienist Advisory Board for the Oral Cancer Foundation, a thought leader for Teethcloud, and a member the Triage Cancer Speakers Bureau. Meyer-Lippert is also a member of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene, American Dental Hygienists’ Association, Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association, and Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative.
Q. What sparked your passion for caring for patients with cancer?
A. In the early 1990s, I watched my mom suffer with painful oral side effects from chemotherapy as I began my first job in dentistry. I realized there was very little information available for both patients and healthcare providers to prevent or manage these issues. As a result, people were suffering with added discomfort and risking serious infection during the treatment process. Some also experienced damage to their long-term oral health that resulted in additional physical, emotional, and financial hardships years after cancer treatment was complete.
Losing my dad to cancer in 2005 was my call to action. I first created a volunteer program at a local oncology clinic, providing oral care kits that contained information about oral side effects of treatments along with a sampling of oral health products. After providing this service for several years, the donations necessary to stock the kits ran low. I was unable to continue the program but my desire to fill this gap in care remained. I longed to find a convenient and easy-to-use resource to address the oral health concerns associated with cancer care, so I decided to create one! In 2013, Side Effect Support was launched as an online resource for patients with cancer and their families, caregivers, and healthcare providers to reduce harmful oral side effects of treatments.
While I continue to expand products and services at Side Effect Support, my goal remains the same: to improve the cancer care experience not only during the treatment process but throughout survivorship. Currently, Side Effect Support provides free educational articles, printable patient brochures, affordable over-the-counter oral care products, and, through a partnership with The TeleDentists, virtual dental care within 10 minutes or less 24/7, 365 days a year. Presentations are available for support groups and healthcare providers, including continuing education for dental professionals. Our new “Partner’s Marketplace” will offer direct access and discounts for a growing number of products and services with partner companies.
I’m grateful for finding a way to create something positive out of very challenging times. My greatest hope is that Side Effect Support will not only reduce the fear and uncertainty that so often accompanies a cancer diagnosis, but also improve comfort and help to achieve superior treatment outcomes through a focus on oral health.
Q. What qualities do you think are necessary for dental hygienists to transition from clinical practice to a career in industry?
A. I think the most valuable qualities are the desire to never stop learning and to always strive to excel in your role. Every class, certification, and professional relationship is an opportunity to open a new door. And sometimes these opportunities arise very unexpectedly.
It is also very important to think outside of the box, to be open to options beyond traditional roles, and not let a fear of failure hold you back. By nature, most hygienists are perfectionists but that sometimes results in creating our own limitations. I think that is where so many hygienists fall into the feeling of being “trapped.” You will never know until you try!