The Lucy Hobbs Project empowers women in dentistry to drive change and deliver success through networking, innovation and giving back. One woman who embodies this is Margaret Fickess, RDA, CDA, M.Ed.

Margaret (shown) — the recipient the 2017 Lucy Hobbs Project Innovator Award — embodies the qualities of an outstanding dental professional who is driven to educate and mentor others.

When she graduated from San Diego Mesa College’s dental-assisting program nearly 50 years ago, Margaret Fickess’s only work experience at that point had been as a bookkeeper and staffer at her parents’ health-food store. Little did she know that she was about to embark on a decades-long career devoted to raising the status of dental assistants, and help others like her realize their professional potential.

LHPquotes-Fickess.jpg“My passion is to help underserved students who want a better life for  themselves and their children,” says Fickess, who is now the director of the program she completed all those years ago.

Every year, she oversees a class of about two dozen students as they learn their craft in the school’s high-tech 11-chair dental clinic, designed by Fickess herself. The program runs from June to May, and upon graduation, all students are encouraged to take California’s Registered Dental Assistant exam. They can go to work straight out of school, typically earning $13 to $18 an hour thanks to their certification in infection control, X-ray safety, ethics and CPR. Obtaining RDA certification, though, can garner them as a substantial raise – an additional $10 an hour, in the case of one recent graduate, Fickess says.

According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual pay for dental assistants was just under $36,000 in 2015, and prospects for the profession look bright: The BLS projects that demand for dental assistants will increase 18 percent by 2024 – more than twice the national average for all occupations – making students like Fickess’s highly desirable in the years ahead.

Among her other interests, Fickess volunteers with the California Dental Association Cares program, which offers free treatment to as many as 2,000 patients a month.

She also donates time to the Children’s Dental Health Clinic and additional programs that promote dental education for underserved children. Some of those children might end up students of hers someday. Fickess says her life’s work pays dividends every day: “My caring and compassion for all my students to teach them a career has been wonderful for me.”

Know Someone Similar?

There’s only one day left to nominate an Innovator for a 2018 Lucy Hobbs Project Award prior to today’s deadline (April 27).
Award categories include:
Woman to Watch: An up-and-coming leader who utilizes her position to create positive change in the industry
Industry Icon: A trailblazer who is consistently recognized and admired for her work in the dental industry
Mentor: An advisor who recognizes the importance of supporting, educating and encouraging others
Innovator: A groundbreaker who demonstrates a willingness to implement new technologies and business processes without fear of potential failure
Humanitarian: An altruist who works tirelessly for a charity or cause that benefits the well-being of others
Clinical Expert: A skillful practitioner who embraces advancements and adeptly integrates them into patient care.
If you know someone who fits the criteria above, click here to nominate her today.

Mark your calendar

Attend this year’s celebration, September 13 to 15 in San Francisco. Don’t wait to register: