Non-traditional Student Became a Humanitarian Leader

Dorinda Ball honored by School of Dentistry

In her late 30s, Dorinda Ball wanted to make a career change – with options.

Ball combined her dental hygiene degree that she received in 2003 with the eight years she previously spent in the Air Force to begin her new career as a U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Officer. Her first assignment was with the Indian Health Service in Parker, Ariz.

“It was incredibly rewarding to provide care to a population that I initially had to convince I was actually there to work with them to save their teeth – not to pull them,” said Ball. “It was rewarding to provide care to these populations and to earn acceptance into their communities.

“I was the first full-time dental hygienist to ever work at Parker Indian Health Center, so this was all new to them,” Ball said.

According to Ball, working with the health center was a springboard for getting involved in activities that included humanitarian deployments.

She deployed on two joint services humanitarian missions where she provided direct patient care and developed basic non-surgical periodontal therapy training programs for dental schools in Guyana and Papua New Guinea.

As the 2014 Alumni Award recipient for the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, Dental Hygiene Ball’s nomination was supported by Pamela Overman, Ed.D.

“Dorinda’s career accomplishments are extensive, even though she has only been in the field for 10 years,” said Overman, professor and associate dean for Academic Affairs at the school. “Her entire career can be described under the theme of ‘access to care.’ ”

Ball was appointed to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association Council on Public Health and was instrumental in the development of ADHA’s “Career Opportunities in Public Health” guide.

Her current assignment is in Washington, D.C., as a public health service commissioned officer for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where she recruits health care students and providers to positions in the 119 prisons under the auspices of the federal government.

“I really enjoy being able to provide a career opportunity to new graduates,” said Ball. “I also enjoy mentoring and providing career guidance after they’re hired.”

In 2008, Ball received the U.S. Public Health Service Achievement Medal for her “exemplary performance, dedication, leadership and invaluable contribution while providing the highest standard of service” during a 2008 medical mission aboard the USNS Mercy hospital ship. A recognized leader and valuable contributor to her peers and supervisors, she has received multiple other awards during her career with the public health service.

“My biggest personal accomplishment would be successfully completing hygiene school as a non-traditional student while working every weekend 12 hours a day and maintaining a family, which has ultimately led to a career I would never have envisioned,” said Ball.

“Professionally, I’ve been fortunate to have been able to affect change and bring about a positive outcome in a number of different ways throughout my dental hygiene career, but I really like the contributions I was able to make towards oral health during both of my humanitarian deployments. It was gratifying to know the programs would continue to be used after we were long gone,” Ball continued.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association presents alumni awards to one honoree from each school and five campus-wide awards at its annual awards luncheon. This year’s event, which will include the presentation of the 2014 Chancellor’s Medal, will be held on Thursday, April 24, on the UMKC campus. For information and tickets, go to the 2014 Alumni Awards luncheon website.


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