Author Archives: Angelique Bannag

The Future Looks Bright

By Christina Boufis

On June 17, 2018, 20 University of the Pacific dental hygiene students made history when they walked across the stage along with their graduating Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry dental student peers to receive their diplomas. This year’s graduating hygiene class was the first to begin and end their training in San Francisco at the dental school’s campus in the South of Market area.

Since its inception in 2002, University of the Pacific’s baccalaureate Dental Hygiene program has always held its graduation ceremony in San Francisco, but their home program was located 90 miles away on the Stockton campus. The move to San Francisco was several years in the making, says Deborah Horlak, RDH, director of the Dental Hygiene program and associate professor in the Department of Periodontics.

The main reason for relocating the program? “We’re part of a dental team, and we weren’t really experiencing that teamwork as part of the curriculum,” explains Horlak. “Our dental hygiene students had been going on rotation to San Francisco for a week two times during their senior year, so they had a little bit of connection with the dental school, but it was really difficult to feel part of it when they were two hours away.”

In addition, while the Stockton campus had a small dental clinic where hygiene students worked with Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) dental residents, the residency program moved a few years ago. “So, there was just a dental hygiene program alone with no dental support,” says Horlak.

And the reverse was also true. Back on the San Francisco campus, “Our dental students didn’t really have appreciable exposure to working with dental hygienists as team members,” says Dr. Cindy Lyon ’86, associate dean for oral health education, and the founding director of the Dental Hygiene program. “The hope was that in moving the dental hygiene students here, both would gain experience working with each other. And integrating them into the larger student body offered some interesting opportunities for faculty development as well—and for the dental hygiene students to be a greater part of the dental school culture,” says Lyon.

History of the Dental Hygiene Program

Originally, Pacific’s Dental Hygiene program was born out of a need for more hygienists in the Central Valley. Market supply was small, and alumni in Stockton and the Central Valley had advocated for a hygiene program there, explains Lyon.

The Dental Hygiene program was the first 36-month program leading to a bachelor of science degree in dental hygiene in the United States. It prepares students for positions as clinicians, educators, researchers, public health and industry professionals. About 235 dental hygiene students have graduated from the program so far, according to Horlak.

Growing Pains

As with most new ventures, there were some growing pains when the program moved from Stockton to San Francisco. “I knew that since we were the first class, there would be a lot of changes and things we would have to work through,” says Nadine Mendoza, ’18 DH, who served as hygiene class president.

“Professor Horlak made it clear that we were going to be pioneers and trailblazers for the program. Granted it wasn’t an easy process for us,” Mendoza says. “It took a lot of different ways for us to integrate, including attending huddles with the dental students and hosting “lunch and learns” to educate them about what we do as hygienists. It was also important for us to learn how the dental students function in the clinic. The collaboration ended up being one of the highlights for me.”

Classmate Allison Shea Yochim ’18 DH says that blazing a new path was worth it. “The program demanded a lot of us,” Yochim says. “Because the faculty taught us well, and we showed that we were competent, friendly and collaborative, we earned the trust and respect that’s so crucial to delivering the best patient care.”

Several Firsts

Since the program is now based on the San Francisco campus, hygiene students are paired with second- and third-year dental students in group clinics with the goal of mirroring the relationship they might have in private practice—communicating about ideal patient care, diagnoses, treatment plans, ongoing re-care and the timing of dental and dental hygiene visits, explains Lyon.

“Being able to work alongside the dental students and get a real taste for what it would be like working in practice was a highlight for me,” says Yochim. “And I also don’t think many other programs offer such state-of-the-art facilities,” she adds. “Everything was new and high quality, and very clean and modern. It immediately conveys a sense of professionalism to patients.”

Virtual Dental Home

Another first was the opportunity to participate in the school’s Virtual Dental Home program, where hygiene students travel to remote facilities, such as schools, group homes or nursing homes, to provide oral health care. Students typically see one or two patients per session, conduct an exam, provide onsite care, such as prophylaxis, X-rays or sealants, and collect as much data as possible to send back to the dental students offsite who would review the patient’s chart and create a treatment plan, explains Mendoza.

The Virtual Dental Home program is a public health model of care, explains Horlak, and “a way to help more people.” It’s also a win-win-win for patients, dental hygiene students and dental students alike. Patients who may not be comfortable receiving care in a clinic can be treated in familiar surroundings. “The dental students are learning how to be the dentists back at home,” says Horlak. “And, the hygiene students are learning how to be hygienists who go out to remote sites.”

Being part of the first class to be integrated with the Virtual Dental Home was a unique experience and one that helped shape her future career, says Mendoza. “It was one of the things that continues to draw me into public health and to go out into the community to serve people who can’t necessarily access dental care.”

After getting her license, Mendoza plans to work in private practice to gain more experience. Then, she’d like to pursue public health or potentially even go into teaching. “My main goal is to work in underserved communities,” she says, “whether in the United States or in different countries to teach oral health and the prevention of periodontal disease.”

Unforeseen Benefits

In addition to the goal of working more collaboratively with dental students, there were unexpected benefits of moving the program to San Francisco. As the alumni and California Dental Hygiene Association (CDHA) and American Dental Hygienist Association (ADHA) representative for her class, Yochim was so inspired by the passion and generosity of donors to the dental program that she helped create the first-of-its-kind Dental Hygiene Excellence Scholarship.

The scholarship, started jointly with the DH Classes of 2018 and 2019, will be awarded to those students most in need of help with end-of-year expenses, such as testing and licensing fees, which can really add up, says Yochim.

“No other dental hygiene class has started a scholarship,” she says. “And I think being in San Francisco and near the dental students not only provided the obvious benefit of having a realistic private practice working relationship, but it also provided a lot of opportunities that weren’t anticipated at the outset, such as knowing how we can do something about decreasing the financial burden for dental hygiene students.”

While she is interviewing for a dental hygienist position in the Bay Area, Yochim continues to be involved with the CDHA. “I’ve learned that it’s so important for people to be involved in their professional associations, whether dentists or hygienists, because it really determines the future of our profession,” she says. And she sees a future for herself in both private practice and advocacy work.

Planning for the Future

What’s next for the current matriculating and future dental hygiene classes? “Moving forward, I hope that our Virtual Dental Home program becomes even more robust,” says Lyon. “That’s a program that not many dental hygiene students in the country have the opportunity to participate in, so it would be great to see it expand.”

“I think we would all love to see more courses where our dental students and hygiene students can participate together,” says Lyon. “The curriculum is currently going through some exciting updates, and I hope the content and sequencing are such that dental hygiene students can learn right alongside our dental students.”

As for the DH Class of 2018, they not only helped smooth the transition for their program but also kept their eyes on making things easier for future classes, says Horlak. “I think we could not have had a better first class,” she says. “They had a lot of good ideas about how things could operate better. And they were always thinking about the next class. They were a big part of the reason the transition to the San Francisco campus was so successful.”

For recent graduates and future dental hygiene students, the future definitely looks bright.

Christina Boufis, PhD, is a freelance health and medical writer from the East Bay.

Touching Lives

It is amazing to think about the thousands of lives that members of the Dugoni School family impact each year. From here in the Bay Area to around the world, our students, residents, faculty, staff and alumni are making a difference in many meaningful ways.

In this issue of Contact Point, we’re spotlighting a few of our long-time patients who have entrusted their dental care to the Dugoni School. Since two of the profiled patients have been coming to the school’s clinics for decades, some of our readers may even recognize their faces. You’ll also read about Dr. Dan Tanita ’73 and his professional colleagues from Russia who together have cultivated a relationship to help improve care and raise oral healthcare standards in that country. We also feature our Dental Hygiene program, which recently graduated the first class to complete their clinical portion of the program at our San Francisco campus. And we showcase other members of the Dugoni School family who are making a difference in their own unique ways, both at the school and in their communities.

The Honor Roll of Donors included in this issue names many of you who have donated to support our people and programs during the last academic year. Your gifts, involvement and encouragement help the Dugoni School touch the lives of more and more people with each passing year. We are grateful for your ongoing support and what every member of the Dugoni School family does to help people lead healthy lives.


Nader A. Nadershahi ’94, DDS, MBA, EdD

Dr. Edward Bryan ’57: Breaking Down Barriers with His Smile

By Marianne Sampogna Jacobson

Reaching his 90th birthday on August 12, Dr. Edward Bryan ’57 had a lot to celebrate. A charismatic, people person, “Dr. Ed” exudes positive energy in all that he does. He didn’t set out to be a trailblazer, but his charm and good luck led him to achieve many firsts. Dr. Ann Marie Silvestri ’75, past president of the Alumni Association, who recently spent time with Bryan, remarks, “He is an intriguing, knowledgeable and charming man who really knows what he is doing.” Joanne Fox, director of the Alumni Association, calls him “an uplifting, inspirational, positive and generous spirit.”

An only child raised in the Back Bay section of Boston, Bryan had a happy childhood and has vivid recollections about his summer jobs. In what he calls a “highlight of my life,” in the summer of 1944, his cousin got him a job selling sandwiches on the train from Boston to New York City. With his youthful confidence, upon seeing Eleanor Roosevelt on the train one day, he introduced himself. She told him, “Make sure you get an education; without it you have nothing.” He took that message to heart, attending University of California at Berkeley, followed by the College of Physicians & Surgeons; and has never stopped learning.

Other significant influencers were his godfather, one of the first African Americans to attend Tufts University, who steered Bryan toward dental school, and a College of Physicians & Surgeons alumnus for whom Bryan worked as a dental assistant in Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1952.

After graduating in 1957 from the College of Physicians & Surgeons as only the third African American to do so, Bryan began his career in the U.S. Air Force. He then opened a private practice for three years, but not having a “taste for it” he returned to government service. Under the Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons, he became the chief dental officer at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Los Angeles where he worked for more than 20 years and treated notorious prisoners, including Charles Keating and Heidi Fleiss. He found the work at MDC rewarding and was appreciated by the inmates. One patient, a mobster serving a 55-year sentence, sent Bryan two dozen roses to thank him for the great dental care he received.

“an uplifting, inspirational, positive and generous spirit.”

Bryan’s people skills have served him well. He first encountered “bitter honey,” as he refers to prejudice, in Texas while serving in the military. Years later, while working at MDC, he encountered a bigoted patient who needed his tooth pulled. A convicted bomber addressed Bryan with the “N” word. Quick on his feet, Bryan adopted an Indian accent and convinced the inmate that he was a doctor from India so he would accept his care.

Bryan met his future wife, Barbara Grischott, at UC Berkeley, where they were two of the few African Americans on campus at the time. “She had four boyfriends who all went overseas and I was the only one that came back alive, so I guess I was the last man standing,” he chuckles. They had a marvelous marriage for 57 years and had two children. Barbara was a dancer who opened her own studio and Bryan boasts she was the “greatest cook in the world.”

Bryan has many interests, particularly golf, which he has been playing since the 1970s. He enjoys telling funny stories, peppered with great impressions and accents. When he was younger, Bryan was an avid runner. Although he did not attend, he qualified for the 400-meter hurdles in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. His classmate, Dr. Jim Cavan ’57, recalled how excited Bryan was when Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile in 1954. “He jumped up and down and hollered at the radio.”

Bryan’s ethnic background is a colorful mix of “white Virginians to Madagascar blacks,” and he says he has always been comfortable in his own skin. “I never got uptight about racial issues; why should I bother with someone else’s ignorance?” In spite of this quiet activism, Bryan made great strides for himself and other African Americans who followed. He was the first black person to join both the Psi Omega dental fraternity and the exclusive Los Angeles Athletic Club. He admits that achieving such “firsts” reflected his outgoing, positive nature and resulting friendships rather than a directed campaign towards equality. He calls it “lucky.”

He continues to keep his cool and remain productive, positive and in good health with an inspiring “daily credo” for better living. This includes embracing forgiveness, exercise, sleep and poetry and avoiding cigarettes, complaints, inflated ego and greed. “The list I go through every day reinforces who I am.”

Bryan continues to move forward with zeal. He still works part time at the prison four days a week treating patients. “I have to keep the motor running,” he quips. And he has maintained his connection with his alma mater. The dental school “gave me something and I wanted to give something back,” so he recently set up an endowment fund for $50,000 to help African American students. Bryan’s endowment will be doubled to $100,000 thanks to the University’s Powell Match program.

To those entering the profession today, the advice he offers is “it doesn’t cost a cent to smile.”

Marianne S. Jacobson, BA, MBA, is a freelance writer from Marin County.