Shirley Branam, RDH, MBA, is a clinical educator II/trainer for Dentsply Sirona Consumable Products Group. Throughout the year, she travels the world providing clinical education and training for clinicians and faculty at universities on the use of ultrasonic instrumentation and other prevention-related topics. She has served at her alma mater, the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, in a variety of positions including dental hygiene faculty member, staff dental hygienist in Dental Faculty Associates and Graduate Prosthodontic Clinics, and research coordinator assistant. Branam’s areas of expertise include clinical dental hygiene, biomaterials, implants, local anesthesia, and nitrous oxide sedation. For the past 14 years, she has been supporting Dentsply Sirona by developing and presenting continuing education courses; building relationships with key opinion leaders; managing budgets; remaining abreast of scientific literature; leading and managing school programs, private practitioner programs, and internal training programs; attending national and international conventions; and soliciting research proposals from dental researchers. Branam is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, American Dental Education Association, International Federation of Dental Hygienists, and Dental Hygienists Association of Australia.
What motivated you to begin a career in industry and what factors were involved in making this career transition?
I have spent my entire career in the dental profession, starting out as a dental assistant. In 1998, while raising three sons, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from the University of Michigan (UM). Following graduation, I began my second career as a staff dental hygienist in private practice. I then transitioned to working as a clinical dental hygienist at the UM Dental Faculty Practice and then the UM Graduate Prosthodontic and Implant Clinic, where I gained extensive knowledge and experience in implant maintenance. I also became a faculty member in the dental hygiene program, which is how I learned how much I enjoyed the educational aspect of dental hygiene. I then earned a Master of Business Administration in Health Care Management from the University of Phoenix. The combination of teaching, clinical experience, and business training created my opportunity to begin my third career as a clinical educator with Dentsply Sirona. My position provides the opportunity to utilize both my dental hygiene experience and business training.
What are the most important facets of your position with Dentsply Sirona and what skills are needed to make these happen?
As a member of the clinical affairs team, I am involved in evidence-based education and curriculum development for our live and e-learning courses. My position as a global trainer includes presenting clinical education training courses throughout the world. I provide knowledge, skills, and inspiration to students, clinicians, and key opinion leaders at national and international events. Another aspect of my position includes participating in the development and evaluation of new and innovative products within our Consumable Product Group. Finally, I help organize the Ultrasonic Scaling Teaching Institute Meetings for North America and Europe. These responsibilities require an extensive knowledge in the practice of dental hygiene in addition to strong public speaking skills and an ability to transfer this knowledge to clinicians, faculty, and students. My current role provides an exciting opportunity to travel the world and share dental hygiene concepts and techniques with others within our profession.
What advice would you give dental hygienists who are interested in transitioning out of clinical practice and into industry?
A career in the dental industry is another way of providing quality dental care. As dental hygienists, we strive to use the best equipment and products during our patient procedures. A career in the dental industry gives dental hygienists the opportunity to participate in new product development and educate clinicians in their proper use, which ultimately improves the quality of care we provide to our patients. Some opportunities include a career in sales, marketing, or clinical education. Selecting these career paths may require additional education and experience. I have enjoyed many aspects of my corporate career, with one of my favorites being working with our research and development and marketing departments in new product development. If you’re looking to expand your influence in improving dental care, a career in the dental industry my by for you.