Ashlie Mardis, BSDH,RDH,CDA of RedheadRDH is a wife, a mom, an educator, dental hygienist, friend, artist, hair stylist, and volunteer.
I’m so excited to chat with you too and be able to put a face with some of the members that run RDH Connect™. Awesome. I really love your guys’ mission of your page and what you do for the community. It’s been really, really great to connect with you guys and hear from others on their experiences and things like that.
Awesome. Well, that’s so great to hear. And you’re always really instrumental in getting these conversations kicked off. You can have a really good topic, but it always takes someone kind of breaking the ice and getting the conversation started so people like you who lend your voice and your inside are always so appreciated. So thank you for that.
Of course. Anytime.
So can you give us a little bit of a background on your career now, where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going?
Yes. So I started my dental career in dental assisting back in 2010, and I worked primarily as a hygienist assistant and then I worked as a dental assistant when they needed me and on Fridays. And so I worked with a hygienist that was really, really great with what she did, and she worked double hygiene. So I know now that for me personally, I don’t like double hygiene as much. But anyway, that was a really cool experience to be able to work with her closely, see how she would help patients with their oral health, and they all had a really good relationship with her, trusted her, said that she did gentle cleanings and things like that. And so I just thought that I wanted someday to have that relationship with my patients because at the time I was a dental assistant and so I thought, well, maybe I should go into dental hygiene. And so that’s what kind of got me rolling and 10 years later, so I graduated in 2020. During the pandemic, I finally got my license and was able to meet that dream. I guess you could say.
Right now I am working in a private practice and I work with two other hygienists, and that’s been a really, really great experience because when I first graduated I did not work with other hygienists. I was the only hygienist in the office working in a corporate office. So it’s been really great to kind of have a one-on-one mentor there with me. And so I’ve also gone through a big, I guess, hurdle after not just graduating and during the pandemic, but with other things. So being where I’m at now means a lot to me and I’m really proud of myself where I’m at, and I see myself growing in other aspects as a entrepreneur as my goal. And then with other things outside the such as writing an article, which is where you come in and have been trying to help me with that. And now that my kids are going back to school, I feel like I can focus more on that. And then, let’s see, one thing that I would really love to do is do mobile hygiene. So that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I worked as a CNA before hygiene school in home health, not in a facility. And that was such an amazing and rewarding experience and I would love to do that again, but provide dental health for patients.
Awesome. Something else that you’re really, that is so neat to see is all of the hairstyles that you do. It’s so neat to see such a creative, it’s always really interesting when you have hygienists and there’s all the clinical things that they do and all the expertise that they share, but then sometimes other hygienists will also let you into how they do their makeup and how they do their hair or what they pack in their bags or things like that that are just fun. So have you always been very into doing hair? Do you do all of these beautiful hairstyles for work every day? If you do, that’s amazing. Where did that come from?
So I grew up with me and my best friend. We would do hair all the time, but I never saw myself as a cosmetologist or a hair styler or doing anything like that or cutting hair. But we would play with hair all the time. And so after I graduated elementary school and was moving on to middle school, things like that where I really was caring more about my appearance and things like that, I would spend a lot of time doing my hair and I had red hair. So I felt like that was always the best aspect of me. I would always get compliments, things like that. So I tried to embrace that.
So in regards to dental hygiene and my career and things like that, I always did do, not every day, but I would do different types of hairstyles a lot. And so I’d get compliments all the time. And actually one of my coworkers was like, you should start a social media page where you do hairstyles and things like that. But I wasn’t sure if I was quite ready to jump only into hairstyles at that time. I mostly wanted to, if I got onto social media and was putting all that time and effort, I wanted to try and make something out of it. And so I thought that I would just try to incorporate my hairstyles on my RDH page because it would bring interest that might be different from other pages, like you said. And for those that don’t want to wear a scrub cap, it might give them some ideas on how to do their hair or whatnot. But yeah, so that’s kind of how that started. And my goal though for my page is to have a bunch of resources on there that hygienists can refer back to help them in their career and also to provide artwork, dental artwork and stuff like that that they might want to hang up in their office, those kind of things. So it’s been just more of a creative fun side that I like to show.
That’s awesome. I know social media today, obviously it’s a really popular, there are all kinds of platforms that really help launch entrepreneurs. So I’m curious what your relationship with social media has been like. I know for a lot of people they say there are so many benefits and there are so many benefits networking, but there’s also the other side that can make people feel not always the best or maybe they can feel a little bit of, I don’t even know if you would call it imposter syndrome or what you would call it, but the relationship with it can be complex. How do you navigate that?
So I try to not get stuck with comparing myself to other R D H, social media influencers and educators. I try to keep myself a little bit more to myself, but one thing that helps a lot is in the ways that I branch out though from not being completely on my own, I try to just stay away from the negative. And then other things like that is I just try to support other members. And I find that when you support other members, you make connections that you otherwise wouldn’t and you network and you can kind of support one another as you’re going through these weird times that can happen when you’re on social media, that kind of thing. And so that’s been super, super helpful as my own experience of going through those foggy, weird social media instances.
Yeah, it’s always really great. When you spoke a little bit earlier about mentorship, and I know for me, I graduated from hygiene school 10 years ago and mentorship wasn’t really something, I don’t really think they emphasized it much when I was in hygiene school and I wasn’t aware that it was anything I needed. I feel like I’ve really come to really understand just how important it is to have a mentor and be a mentor. Probably within the last five years, I don’t think that really kicked in for me until I started teaching. And then you give guidance to students and then you realize that you have a lot to share, but you also need mentorship yourself. So do you have a mentor? Do you mentor others? What’s your relationship with mentorship?
Yeah. When I first graduated, I was on my own and that was really hard. I did kind of have somebody that I could talk to, but it was always on the phone or through text, that kind of thing. As another hygienist that was regionally over my area, but that wasn’t the same as now where I’m working with somebody. That’s been kind of a difficult relationship in some ways, but it’s getting better as in she doesn’t, I don’t think she feels like I’m competing with her anymore. Sometimes that’s really hard too when you go into an office where there’s been two hygienists there this full time, one primarily works full time and she might look at you as a threat or whatnot. And so I feel like in the beginning of my relationship now and where I’m at in my current office, that’s kind of how it started out as.
But now we’re starting to get a little bit more where we feel like we can be friends and that competition isn’t there. So that’s been really, really great to finally be able to talk to her with necrotizing, ulcerative gingivitis or periodontitis, those kind of things that I’ve never really encountered yet. She really took me under her wing and helped me with that. Also, giving anesthetic to pediatric patients. She’s taught a lot along with my dentist that I work with, things like that. And I’ve really grown a lot in that aspect. And I feel like mentorship, you grow in many ways that you otherwise wouldn’t if you were completely on your own. You know what I mean? And it’s different being able to talk and support somebody that is on the same license level as you versus with a dentist, a doctor. So anyway, so that’s been pretty much my experience and I’ve really tried to also just try to mentor others, especially through my page. So that’s been really rewarding about my page too.
Definitely. It’s really nice to see more hygienists mentor other hygienists. I think you’re right. There are many, and luckily I think it’s more of a mindset of past, but you’re right, there’s always that competitive edge and it doesn’t serve anyone. There’s space for everyone, and you think of the whole abundance mindset and the scarcity mindset, and I think there’s a lot more awareness around that now. So I think now we know better, so we do better. So I’m grateful to see that. And I’m grateful for hygienists like you that are always so positive and that are going places and you’re taking other people with you. It’s that whole, I figured this out. Let me share what I learned and I’ll share it with you. And all that I ask is that you pass it on or pass it forward.
Right. And what’s also really cool is that we’re all still learning too. Even though I’ve gone through these things, I’m still learning from you from other social media influencers, and I honestly love that I have that access. I feel like when you don’t have that access to other people, you don’t learn certain things. I’ve learned a lot of things about different ingredients and toothpaste that I did kind of learn, I mean in dental hygiene school, but also feel like I’m learning more about because I’m being exposed to other people’s pages that are really diving deep into ingredients and mouthwash and different things and how you practice different instruments and how they do scaling and rope planning and things like that. It’s just been really cool to see that there’s not always just one way to do something as well. So I’m always learning and I love that I can learn with others too and share with them my experience and we can learn together.
You touched earlier about writing and you said you’re excited to dive more into that, especially as your kiddos go back to school, which I totally relate to. I have two little ones myself. Whatcha interested in writing about or what is it that you want to spread awareness about?
Well, I would love to spread awareness about mentorship, but also a lot about ethics. I know that not all corporate offices are like the office that I worked at, but at my office they treated patients definitely as a dollar sign. So I am really passionate about that. I’m also really passionate about workplace environment and how to deal and navigate through toxic offices, how to leave a toxic office, those kind of things. And knowing that even though it’s hard, temping is okay until you find that place. And also it’s always interesting because there’s that weird transition from dental hygiene, graduating dental hygiene school to working as a dental hygienist. And so that would also be something that would be something of interest for me to touch on as well.
Awesome. Well, so I guess my final question to you would be what’s next on your professional goal list? What do you hope the rest of this year holds for you?
Yeah, my next thing is to grow my page, provide more of the resources that I want available on there. So I’m going to be providing different things such as a child page with a tracker, and I would like to eventually have documents that hygienists could use such as for gum disease, gingivitis, just things that they can give their patients to help them understand what they had already talked about and resources that they can look at to help. And I also would love to come up with an emergency notebook kind of a thing that, a quick reference book that dental professionals can look at for medical emergencies because my son has epilepsy and my other son has autism, and I actually just recently learned that my son with epilepsy, he also has a D H D. So things like that I would like to provide in that book of how to navigate and help patients that might have those conditions and what to do if an emergency happens like with a seizure. So I would love to provide something like that. Put my artwork on there so if hygienists want to put any tooth fairy art in there, op, then they could buy it then. But maybe five years down the road to 10 years down the road, I would love to start navigating mobile hygiene where I can go into patient’s homes and provide help and dental cleanings and things like that, or dental therapy, excuse me, for patients that are home bound and things like that in my area.
That’s incredible. So you’ve got just lots of big goals on your list, and there’s no doubt in my mind you’re going to reach every single one of those. And I really love that it’s focusing on clinical and education and creativity and art. It’s a little bit of everything, and I think that’s how people prevent burnout. They explore all the things. So I think that’s an awesome approach and we can’t wait to see your journey and support you through it.
Thank you. Hopefully I’ll get some articles along the way too.
Absolutely. We cannot wait to publish your articles. Where can people reach you, follow you and support your work?
Yeah, so I have a page called RedheadRDH, and that’s primarily where they can reach me if they would like to connect or whatnot, send me a message and I’d love to chat.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Ash. We’d love your page. We love you and everything that you’re doing, and thank you so much for spending time with the RDH Connect™ team today.
You’re welcome. Thank you for having me. I love you guys too, and I really appreciate the mentorship that you are providing to the RDH community. So thank you so much as well.