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Final Words: Kimberly Kron & Saddle Stool Musculoskeletal Pain

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Category: Final Words... | Dental Hygiene (M.S.) | May 01, 2018

Your name, program, dissertation title.

Kimberly Kron, program- Master of Science in Dental Hygiene, thesis title- “Saddle Stool, Ergonomic Education, Pain. Is There a Connection?”

Please tell me about yourself, why did you pick UT Health San Antonio, and your program.

I am a wife and mother of two, and live in Sartell, Minnesota. I have been a hygienist for 12 years, graduating from the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities in 2006. I enjoy scrapbooking, running, and knitting. In 2015, I decided to get my master of science in dental hygiene, while working part time. I chose UT Health San Antonio for the option to be a completely online student, and of course the cost.

Please provide a few sentences summarizing your dissertation. What was the experience like for you?

My thesis consisted of a survey distributed via social media targeting dental hygienists. A saddle operating stool is newer to the market and keeps the spine in a natural s-curve. The goal was to identify differences in reported awareness of musculoskeletal pain (MSP) levels and locations between the saddle stool and standard operating chair use and to identify correlations between types of ergonomic continuing education (CE) courses, number of hours, and reported level of MSP. Almost 37 percent report using a saddle stool. Hygienists who use a saddle stool reported a decrease in their MSP level. Those who took a CE in ergonomics also reported a decrease in the level of MSP.

Why are you passionate about your research topic? How did you first become interested in it?

My experience throughout this process brought out a lot of emotions. At the beginning of the year, this project seemed unimaginable. But, slowly, it started coming together. Each step seemed stressful at the time, yet now that it’s done, it feels very rewarding.

A few years ago, I watched a co-worker experience MSP and while she tried to find a tool or routine to help combat it, she came across the saddle stool. After trying it out myself, I realized I never got an upper back twinge, like I normally would have by the end of a long work day. Since then, I was hooked. I’m passionate about ergonomics since MSP is one of the main reasons why many hygienists reduce their number of clinical hours, or worse, quit. It’s amazing what feeling good physically at the end of work can do to a person!

What has been the highlight of graduate school so far? Have you won any awards or have there been any achievements you’ve been proud of?

The highlight of graduate school for me so far, has been the euphoric feeling I got after defending my thesis. A close second was the opportunity to travel to San Antonio for orientation three years ago. I love to travel, and before orientation, I had never been here. I am looking forward to seeing some new sights in town for graduation in May. I have not won any awards throughout this process.

What’s next?

For me, I will continue to work clinically, part time, in private practice. With my kids, and the ages they are, I love that I can be home every day to get them off the bus.

Any advice for your fellow graduate students?

My advice for fellow graduate students is to keep your head high. Each class or step may seem like the most stressful thing you’ve ever done, but just remember it will be done soon, and might even laugh at yourself later. I don’t have any words of wisdom that you probably haven’t heard before, just keep smiling. Life is short, smile while you still have teeth.

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