Meet Karen Hopkins, regional dental coordinator for our dental program in Population and Public Health, who explains how hours spent in the dentist’s chair with cavities as a child inspired a career.
“My parents immigrated from Syria and Lebanon: fluoride and flossing wasn’t really taught back then. As a child, I spent hours in a dentist chair with cavities. The dental assistant was lovely, I thought, ‘I want to be like you.’ So I became a dental assistant. Eventually, I trained as a dental hygienist, earned a UBC BDSc. degree and joined geriatric dentistry in 2011.
I helped provide dental care for Syrian refugees. I’d never seen anything like it. Two years in a refugee camp with no toothbrush. One father with two girls left their house, returned and it was bombed. He lost his wife, other children, parents, brother. I still think about those girls. The care we provide vulnerable people is amazing. I’m passionate about water fluoridation: that’s true upstream care; we’d prevent many cavities. If I had that growing up, my oral health would’ve been different.
My family’s thing is ski vacations: we love the interior mountains. My son and husband ski double black diamond runs; my daughter and I ski some tough stuff ourselves. We kayak and water ski Lake Cowichan and I play field hockey and run marathons and halfs. And yes, I floss every day.”
-- Karen Hopkins, Regional Dental Coordinator, Dental Program, Population and Public Health
Each week throughout 2018 we’ll share a new Humans of Fraser Health story with you. Follow along as we profile some of the amazing people working in our health authority who bring their authentic selves to work every day.
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