Originally from a small town in northwestern Ohio, Keri Slane ventured away from home and attended Albion College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in economics and played four years on the Briton volleyball team.
After graduating she spent two years coaching high school volleyball and one year as the assistant volleyball coaching position at Albion College. She decided to move to Battle Creek after being accepted into the dental hygiene program at Kellogg Community College.
“Dentistry always appealed to me probably because it was something none of my friends could fathom, having their hands in other people’s mouths and all,” she said. “It wasn’t until I observed first in Dr. George Brown and Dr. Jon Eckhardt’s orthodontics office that I really realized what dentistry was really about.”
According to Slane, she realized after watching Dr. Brown just how much she could contribute to dentistry. Slane explained that at the time, Dr. Brown was retired and coming into the office out of the goodness of his heart to help with special orthodontic cases. She said one case in particular was very special to her.
“This one case was special to me because I come from a family where dental care was not the number one priority,” Slane explained. “A young boy living in a foster care home was in dire need of orthodontics and oral surgery to help him have a properly functioning mouth. So growing up in this home they didn’t have money for the treatment that was presented to them.
“Dr. Brown was working free of charge to help this young boy,” she continued. “It was amazing to watch the progress he made for this young child to have a healthy, happy smile. It really touched my heart that someone would be as generous as to donate their time to really help someone in need. I know that’s the person I want to be someday.”
Slane’s advice is others thinking about pursuing a career in dentistry is to shadow and observe a dental office in action, and to see how the dentist, dental hygienists and staff interact with patients. It can be a rewarding experience to find the best solution for every patient and seeing the difference you can make in their lives.
According to Slane, her most enjoyable aspects of dentistry are non-surgical periodontal therapy and following up with good patient education for proper home care.
“Seeing some of the patients I have, I realize that home care is the most importance part for them and seeing them come back with a success story about their care makes me realize I made a difference in their life,” Slane said.
Outside of the clinical setting, Slane has been an active student, as well. Since becoming a member of the graduating class of 2013 at Kellogg Community College, Slane has been elected the Student American Dental Hygienist Association class president, taken part in many community programs including providing fluoride treatments to pre-school aged children and informational sessions on dental hygiene care for parents and children, as well as working with the March of Dimes.
“Winning the Michigan Dental Association Foundation Scholarship allows me to pay back my student loans quicker than expected,” she explained, adding “and I am grateful for that opportunity. Dental Hygiene will be an exciting career path, I look forward to a lifetime of helping people in need.”