Alumni Spotlight: Kimyen Nguyen, Dental Hygiene
Kimyen Nguyen is uniquely qualified to tell you that your flossing needs work.
Since graduating from MCPHS with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, she’s gone on to earn two additional degrees in dental health: a Master of Science in Dental Hygiene through MCPHS Online, and a Doctor of Dental Medicine from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine (TUSDM).
But if Kimyen were to notice your less-than-perfect flossing, she wouldn’t simply reprimand your behavior and send you on your way. Instead, she’d explain why flossing is vital to oral health and would elaborate on conditions that arise from ineffective flossing, all in kindly-worded, digestible terminology that you could understand, appreciate, and implement—because Kimyen is a born educator, someone who can eloquently explain complicated concepts to any audience. It’s a skillset that she continues to hone, and one that’s shaped and enhanced her academic career since her first year at MCPHS.
As an undergraduate student, Kimyen worked hard to establish herself as a leader among her peers. During her hands-on clinical experiences in MCPHS’s dental hygiene clinic, she became the first student in her class to operate a cavitron tip, a dental hygiene instrument that uses water to clean teeth.
“I ended up teaching my friends how to use the instrument,” says Kimyen. “They got so excited seeing me use it that they asked me to show them as well.”
As a graduate student, she completed a concentration in oral health education in conjunction with her master’s degree coursework—adding a formal credential to her innate abilities.
And in dental school, Kimyen spent time tutoring her classmates, using her MCPHS education to provide supplemental instruction on topics related to dental hygiene.
“Dentists have to do hygiene work too, so my dental school friends would ask me for advice,” says Kimyen. “I would show them what they wanted to learn after school.”
Because Kimyen believes firmly in the power of compassionate education, she also values the influence of an excellent mentor.
“Mentors are so important,” says Kimyen. “I think that very few people can say, ‘Oh, I went here, and I became this successful in life without a mentor.’ I just don’t think that can be true.”
At MCPHS, Kimyen’s mentors included faculty members Dianne Smallidge and Linda Boyd. Her dental school mentor was TUSDM professor Dr. Aidee N. Herman. She credits much of her success to their support and wisdom, and advises that prospective students find their own faculty members or working professionals to seek guidance and insight from.
“Just put yourself out there—you never know who you'll meet and who will take you under their wing,” says Kimyen. “Some of it's luck, but you also have to create your own luck. I actually met Dr. Herman, my dental school mentor, at a convention booth. We ended up chatting and just clicked. She gave me her card and told me to contact her. I contacted her that day and the rest is history.”
Through the support of her mentors, the aid of her academic background, and the power of perseverance, Kimyen earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine. Now, she hopes to use her role as a dentist to act as an educator and leader amongst her peers, in her practice, and in her community. She intends to use her expertise to nurture and grow the knowledge of others.
“I'd like to be a great teacher or professor one day,” says Kimyen. “I feel like the biggest impact I can have on a patient is to, first and foremost, teach them about their oral health so that they can prevent tooth loss, tooth decay, or other conditions. This translates into being a good teacher, too. I’m hoping to spread what I learned to other students so that they, in turn, can help patients."
Interested in a career in dental hygiene? Learn more about the 3-year accelerated Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene program at MCPHS.