Congratulations to Jill Fitzgerald, Pharm.D., Director of Experiential Learning and Continuing Professional Development, and Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, who received the 2021 Merit Award from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) on Sunday, November 7.
Fitzgerald directed the development of the School of Pharmacy’s vaccinator training program for a wide range of health care professionals in accordance with the Connecticut Department of Public Health’s Commissioner authorizing the administration of COVID 19 vaccines. Dental hygienists were among the many health care providers Fitzgerald and her team trained.
“Despite pandemic challenges surrounding remote teaching and experiential education, Dr. Fitzgerald added to her plate and worked collaboratively with the CT-DPH to develop and execute a training and certification program to expand the number of COVID-19 immunizers in our State. This allowed Connecticut to raise the pace of immunizations and quite frankly save lives,” said Philip Hritcko, Dean.
“…this award really should be shared with all of those who helped in the project with DPH to educate other health practitioners to provide the COVID 19 vaccine last year,” said Fitzgerald upon receipt of the award.
There are many behind me, students, faculty, and staff, who prepared presentations and traveled to all corners of Connecticut to provide training. … My interactions with the hygienists who came to the training were super. The early trainees taught me how the technique was different from the anesthesia technique so I was able to communicate it to the other trainers to improve the process.
Looking at where the state of Connecticut is now, it was all worth it! We educated nearly 900 dentists, dental hygienists, EMTs, paramedics and veterinarians to give the COVID 19 vaccines. I learned that all the health professionals focused on one goal were able to lead the nation in vaccination rates of our citizens. Too often, we work and live in our professional silos even making it hard for other professions to move forward for the betterment of patient care. This effort showed me that the result is what matters and I hope this experiment will further the role of dentistry and dental hygiene in vaccinations for flu, HPV, and other important vaccines.
I sincerely thank the American Dental Hygiene Association in Connecticut for this very special honor. I truly loved meeting many hygienists around the state and seeing their excitement about volunteering to vaccinate the masses. Thank you for this special day.