When it comes to patient care, according to Dr. Nicole Holland, communication is key.
Dr. Holland, who started at TUSDM on July 31 as the TUSDM’s new Director of Health Communication, Education and Promotion, has a passion for evaluating and improving the way dentists communicate with patients and communities.
“In dental school I felt like I was more or less drilling and filling,” she said. “We were taught that the majority of dental diseases are preventable, so I found myself questioning what took place before patients sat in the dental chair.”
Raised in Georgia, Dr. Holland completed her undergraduate degree at Duke University and received her D.D.S. w/ honors from New York University College of Dentistry. She’s also familiar with Tufts- she holds an M.S. in Health Communication from Tufts University School of Medicine. Most recently before her appointment at TUSDM she completed the Orofacial Pain and Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD) Fellowship Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Holland said her clinical experience with pain management and care in dentistry continues to assist her in her new role at TUSDM.
“Whether interacting with a patient, caregiver, or community, leveraging the fields of health communication and oral health is essential,” she said. “There are so many needs and opportunities.”
Currently, Dr. Holland is conducting research related to oral health messaging in the lay media. The goal, she says, is to learn what consumer oral health information exists and how media messages affect patients who come in for dental treatment.
The position also allows Dr. Holland a freedom to pursue questions she’s always wanted answered.
“I’m also interested in oral cancer diagnosis narratives. I’d like to know more about patient experiences along the continuum of care, specifically as it relates to role of the dental team. There is much work to do, and in oral health in particular. To be at Tufts and able to do this is wonderful.”
Dr. Holland is also assisting the school in its focus on diversity and inclusion. She sees these efforts as both internal (focusing on Tufts staff, faculty, students and patients) and external, focusing on outreach into the community. She hopes to assist in creating strategies that reach people and enrich their experience, no matter their background.
“The priority that Tufts, and not just the dental school, but university wide, puts on diversity and inclusion is inspirational and encouraging,” she said. “There’s no one size fits all in health care…Celebrating and embracing our differences is what makes an institution a welcoming place for all.”