Meet Jessica Donnelly
BCDHA Board of Director Elections (At-Large)
I’m Jessica Donnelly. I am introducing myself from Vernon, B.C., located on the Okanagan Indian Nations’ traditional unceded territory of Syeelhwh. I am running for one of the two directors-at-large positions. I received my certificate in Dental Assisting from Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario, in 1994. I worked for a short period as Certified Chairside Assistant, a receptionist, and later, an office manager before deciding to further my education in the dental field. In 1998 I graduated from the Dental Hygiene diploma program, with honours, from Durham College of Applied Arts and Technology. After working for a year in my home province of Ontario, I moved to the beautiful Okanagan in September 1999.
I settled in Vernon, B.C., where I remain, practicing as a full-time clinician in a private dental clinic. Removing barriers to care has been a great passion of mine. I see the constant need in my daily practice. Growing up with a single mother in a low-income situation has made me compassionate towards those with limited means. I have long believed that dental care should be a part of our medical system. I firmly believe that preventive dental care should be a fundamental human right. We have made progress over the years, especially here in BC. Removing the 365-day rule was a huge step in making Dental Hygiene needs more accessible. I am also supportive of the current government dental benefits plan. It needs work, but it is a step in the right direction. I want to continue along this trajectory with the BCDHA.
I believe we must continue to find new ways to educate the public on the oral and body health links. I feel that this, in time, could contribute to alleviating the burden on our already overtaxed medical system. We have a large population of vulnerable at-risk individuals. I have a very soft spot for those dealing with addiction and mental health issues, as well as our senior population. Being on the board would allow me to work with other like-minded individuals to create new ideas to continue progressing with the work BCDHA has already done. The BCDHA’s work on the recent Bill 36 motivates me to run for the board. This bill has the potential to devalue and move our profession backwards. It will, without a doubt, create another barrier to care. I am very interested in brainstorming ideas to continue to work with the government in ensuring that we maintain what we have already achieved, as well as creating the potential to expand our scope of practice. It’s inspiring to see provinces like Alberta moving forward in the profession by allowing additional duties to our scope of practice, such as prescription writing. I would love to see this for B.C. registrants as well. We also need to find ways to work with the BCCOHP for this purpose. We need to find a way to open the lines of communication with the newly amalgamated college. Another long-term vision for the profession is to see every registered member in this province voluntarily support the association. As healthcare professionals, we should be proud members, but we must realize that the association is more than liability insurance, perks, and discounts. The association is our voice. It is what educates the public that we are more than ‘teeth cleaners.’ They are our strongest advocates, and they need our support. I want to find a way to make this happen.
You often find me at a local hockey rink in my spare time, cheering on my six nephews and niece during their house league games. My second job is being the best auntie ever! Even when I give them dental floss with every birthday or Christmas gift, they still beam when I support them with everything they do!