The Charger Blog

Dental Hygiene Professor at Forefront of COVID-19 Education and Safety

Marie Paulis, R.D.H., MSDH, is dedicated to ensuring the safety of dental hygienists across the state amid the coronavirus global pandemic, and she is working tirelessly to promote education and training among professionals and her students at the University of New Haven.

January 21, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Prof. Marie Paulis
Prof. Marie Paulis is an assistant professor and director of the University’s Dental Hygiene Program.

Marie Paulis, R.D.H., MSDH, recently conducted a webinar in which she shared a picture of Rosie the Riveter, and she added a toothbrush to her hand. The picture reflects her commitment to public health and education during the coronavirus global pandemic.

Chair of the COVID Task Force for the Connecticut Dental Hygienists' Association, Prof. Paulis recently presented the webinar titled "Awareness, Acquisition, and Administration of the COVID Vaccine." As Connecticut has approved dental hygienists to be trained to give the vaccine, she explained how they can sign up for training, which includes an online component and a hands-on practical, to ensure they understood how to navigate the new system.

“As we start vaccinating populations beyond healthcare workers, we will need all our skilled healthcare professionals to help in this effort,” said Prof. Paulis, an assistant professor and director of the University’s Dental Hygiene Program. “The nurses and physicians on the frontlines helping patients who are ill are not able to assist in the vaccination effort. This is a wonderful chance for dental hygienists to ‘give back.’ I've been hearing that phrase from so many of them, as they tell me that's the reason they are pursuing this training.”

‘The historical significance has not been lost on me’

The webinar was an opportunity for her make sure dental hygienists had access to all the information they needed regarding the vaccine, including how to get vaccinated. They discussed their concerns about getting the vaccine, such as potential allergic reactions.

Prof. Paulis has included her students in the discussion about the vaccine, sending them the link to the webinar. She has ensured they have had everything they need to stay safe during the pandemic, from information to personal protective equipment.

“Our students are able to get vaccinated now as healthcare providers, and they will be able to take the training to provide the vaccine upon graduation if they live in Connecticut,” she said. “At the University, our infection control protocols have been updated to include plexiglass, N95 masks, and everything required to keep our clinicians and patients as safe as possible.”

Prof. Paulis says dental hygienists have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Many dental offices were closed last year, and it took time for them to develop the protocols needed to respond to COVID-19 and to secure the necessary personal protective equipment. She is continuing to foster dialogue and promote education across the state to help ensure their safety.

Throughout the pandemic, Prof. Paulis has served on several task forces, including the Governor’s COVID Dental Task Force, helping develop the dental guidelines for the state. She will continue to hold webinars and distribute information as it becomes available.

“It's been a privilege to do this, and the historical significance has not been lost on me,” she said. “I continue to imagine, someday in the future, telling my grandchildren about this time.”