Tammy Filipiak, RDH, MS, is the director of clinical development for Midwest and Mountain Dental, a group practice based in Mondovi, Wis, with more than 100 offices in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. She works closely with the chief dental officer to advance clinical development. Filipiak directs the clinical team, researches and develops clinical treatment protocols, facilitates clinical orientation, and works with dentists, dental hygienists, and office staff to develop strategies for complete patient care within all dental practices. She also serves as the assistant compliance officer, helping to develop quality assurance initiatives, maintain a business code of ethics, and monitor the internal compliance committee.
A past president of the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association (WDHA), Filipiak remains actively involved in her professional associations. Currently, she is chair of the Council on Policy and Bylaws for both WDHA and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA). She served as WDHA delegate to the ADHA Annual Session from 2002 until 2012. Filipiak was also a member of the ADHA taskforce that developed clinical practice guidelines, and she chaired ADHA’s Council on Regulation and Practice in 2006. Filipiak is a member of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and serves on the organization’s Governance Council, as well.
Filipiak has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including the Butler Award of Distinction, WDHA Outstanding Service Award, and a Presidential Citation from ADHA.
What is your typical work day like?
Each day I am involved in many areas of clinical development in our company. I might be working on reviewing clinical services, researching information to support a new product or technology integration, reviewing clinical treatment protocols, delivering clinical orientation for new dentists, dental hygienists, and clinical staff, or reviewing areas that deal with compliance. I work closely with our Chief Dental Officer Jeffrey Moos, DDS, as well as the operations and integrations teams. I have the opportunity to work with many dentists, dental hygienists, and support staff to make a difference in the care that our patients receive each day. As a member of the clinical team, I help support the continued focus on providing complete patient care.
You are active in organized dental hygiene. Why do you make this a priority?
I was first exposed to ADHA as a student delegate in 1986. I walked away from that experience recognizing that I wanted to be one of the “movers and shakers.” It is so important to be actively involved in organized dental hygiene because I want to be informed and part of the process of advancing my profession. I make this a priority because I feel strongly that having a voice is important. My leadership skills have truly developed through my active involvement in organized dental hygiene and I am fortunate to have been mentored by some amazing people. Becoming involved requires a time commitment, but there is something for everyone. I strongly believe that part of my role after 26 years of ADHA membership is to now pay it forward and help mentor others.
What motivated you to return to school more than 10 years after earning your dental hygiene certificate?
I always knew I wanted to further my education. I was interested in teaching and thought a bachelor’s degree would be necessary to accomplish this goal. As it turned out, teaching did not completely fulfill what I was looking for professionally, and after a few years I moved on to different challenges while still practicing clinical dental hygiene. I began working with Midwest Dental in 2004 and a few years later decided that the timing was right to complete my master’s degree. The degree I earned in organizational leadership and quality turned out to be very helpful in the area I work in currently.
What do you consider as the most significant challenges facing the dental hygiene profession, and what can be done to overcome them?
One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the pace of change. This crosses over into many areas of the profession, including practice models, technology, reimbursement, employment opportunities, portability of licensure, and dental hygiene education. There are many factors to consider when addressing these issues, and I am confident that the ADHA is diligently working to stay on top of these challenges. I also think that as a member of ADHA and a license holder, I have a responsibility to be informed and engaged in the advancement of my profession.
What advice would you share with dental hygiene students who will be finishing school in 2013?
New dental hygienists need to take responsibility for their own professional development—specifically, by networking, staying informed, and getting involved with a community of dental hygienists on the local and/or state level. Another key to success and professional growth is to never stop learning. Most of all, they need to look back after their first year of working as a dental hygienist and celebrate their accomplishments. They will be amazed at the things they learn after dental hygiene school.