Ashley Williams is a traveling dental hygienist. She works in many dental offices, wherever needed, instead of only one. There are a number of reasons a dental office may need temporary assistance. A member of the regular staff may be out sick, on vacation or on maternity leave. Williams maintains her own calendar and makes her own decisions regarding where and how much she will work. She enjoys the flexibility, being able to set her own schedule and choose days off or vacation.
Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian studies and history at Old Dominion University. After graduation she accepted a contract English teacher position in Kagoshima, Japan. She had taken Japanese in college. She enjoyed her time there and hopes to return someday. “I try to maintain my language skill by writing to friends there,” she says.
Williams then earned an associate degree in applied science in dental hygiene from Thomas Nelson Community College in Williamsburg. She had always been interested in the medical field. “But I didn’t want to be a nurse,” she says.
“I have plenty of work,” she says. “My calendar is currently full until June. I’ll probably take some time off then.” She gets work by “word of mouth” or online referrals. Of course, offices where she has worked continue to call. “I do have my favorites,” she says. She wears a black uniform. “It is impossible to keep up with the various color schemes in the dental offices,” she says. Currently she works all over the Virginia Peninsula and travels as far as Gloucester. Williams is not looking for a permanent position. “For now, being a ‘temporary’ works for me,” she says.
Williams does travel to many of the same offices and sees some patients more than once. “It is rewarding to see improvement in a patient’s hygiene” she says. “Unfortunately some people delay dental care too long and need a specialist. I am happy when I can alleviate a patient’s fears,” she adds. “I would like to tell everyone: ‘Save your teeth! Take good care of them.’”
Most of Williams’ work involves cleaning. However, patient education and periodontal therapy are involved. Williams realizes that her line of work isn’t for everyone. “It can be unpleasant,” she adds. “However, I have a strong stomach and I find it very rewarding. For now I plan to continue as a dental hygienist, but I might teach in the future,” she says.
Williams grew up in Virginia Beach. She has been married for nine years. “My husband and I grew up in the same neighborhood but didn’t know each other,” she says.
Williams is enjoying her new hobby of “resin art,” which involves pouring resin on wood panels. She learned about it online and her husband encouraged her to try it. “I also dabble in other arts and crafts, including water color,” she says. In addition, Williams is a former drummer and has taught Japanese karate on weekends at the YMCA.
More travel is on Williams’ “someday” list. Her husband was born in Spain and they would like to visit there. “I would also like to go to Alaska or take a riverboat cruise in Europe,” she says. For now she and her husband enjoy hiking in the Shenandoah Valley.
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Business: Dental hygienist