Kelly Piacentino is a Dental Clinic Manager for the City of Sioux Falls Department of Health. Prior to starting this role in 2017, she had worked for a periodontist as a dental hygienist for over a decade. Kelly completed her Master’s Degree in Public Health in 2017, just before transitioning from a dental hygienist into her current management role. Even though a Master’s Degree isn’t required for her current position, it certainly helped position her for management.
Kelly was fortunate because the person who held her position before she started was leaving due to retirement; therefore, she provided Kelly with on the job training and showed her the ropes of the day-to-day job before she left. While this happens from time to time, it isn’t extremely common.
Kelly believes that decision making is the most critical skill for managing four different dental clinics. She also prioritizes and enjoys relating to patients, who are the highlight of her day. Talking to them and helping them learn how to better care for themselves is extremely fulfilling. As with any career, there are difficult aspects too. For Kelly, dealing with passive aggressive people is difficult, but she says employees and co-workers often help make your job a great place to come (or not).
What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?
Kelly has always been inspired by her father, Tom Kassube, who is a Periodontist. Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a dentist. The criteria to get into dental school is steep and admission is extremely competitive. In fact, even with high DAT (Dental Admissions Test) scores she was not accepted into dental school. Another challenge was that there weren’t in dental schools in South Dakota. Having already earned Bachelor Degrees in Biology, Psychology, and Dental Hygiene, Kelly began working in dental hygiene. After over a decade in her career, she wanted a new challenge and enrolled in graduate school to earn a Master of Public Health, which she recently completed.
When asked what advice she would give to anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps, she said, “Study hard and get good grades.” Kelly’s story reiterates what many of us have heard: Work hard to achieve your dream; however, the twist is that sometimes your dream takes an unexpected turn and you end up with a different dream. The twist in Kelly’s dream still led to a career she loves because she helps impact people’s oral health. Kelly said she is most proud of being involved in a local program that recently provided an entire class of 2nd grade students with free sealants, helping the children practice good oral health and avoid cavities.
Kelly is married with 4 children, she has 3 bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree. She is a role model for women who want to pursue education, a full time career, and family.