Faculty and Staff, Orthodontics

Personal experience fuels care coordinator’s drive to solve patient problems

Jessica Craemer on blue bubble background

Craemer was born without 10 of her permanent teeth and underwent expensive treatment.

Process improvement is something that’s often on Jessica Craemer’s mind. Craemer, 27, is the patient care coordinator in the Graduate Orthodontics clinic, and has an affinity for seeing through clutter and red tape and homing in on what’s causing trouble for patients. In her current role, she focuses a lot on patient flow, but in the future, she hopes to dedicate her problem-solving skills to improving access to dental care for patients with craniofacial anomalies.

Craemer draws inspiration from her own experiences. She was born without 10 of her permanent teeth, and during the course of treating her condition, she saw her parents pay out of pocket for her treatment when their private health insurance would not cover the costs of her care. This drew her to the Adams School of Dentistry, where the Craniofacial Center operates just one floor below her.

“Because of the way medical and dental insurance policies are written and lack of regulation for each, some people fall through the gaps in coverage,” she said. “I want to help close those gaps for other people.”

Craemer is always on the lookout for opportunities to network with people and policy makers who are involved with public health initiatives. She was recently accepted into the Master of Public Health program, which is her next step toward helping patients and their families navigate the space between the health care and insurance industries to improve outcomes financially, physically and emotionally.

“This problem I’m trying to solve incorporates both the dental and medical health care systems and the government, which is a complicated place to be. Patients can’t advocate for themselves, and there are a lot of them out there who need help.”

While she’s working in the ASOD clinics, though, she is focused on helping new patients coming through the doors. Since arriving in June 2023, she has enrolled in two Spanish classes at UNC, after identifying a need for Spanish speakers in the clinic.

“Around 30 percent of the patients we see speak Spanish,” she said. “It’s rewarding to me, and I’ve put a lot of work into it. It’s not perfect, but our Spanish-speaking patients seem to appreciate me trying!” And her hard work has paid off; she got As in Spanish 203 and 204 for both the fall and spring semesters.

Craemer has also managed to shorten the wait time for patients seeking orthodontic treatment at ASOD.

“There was a backlog of a year’s worth of patients, and after six months here, I reduced it to two weeks,” she said. “My goal is to make these processes easy so the next person who’s in my role won’t be overwhelmed.”

She has been collaborating with other departments as well, establishing a referral guide and expanding her knowledge and training on EPIC. Craemer also prioritizes processes for the residents providing care in the clinic, helping to streamline the intake and appointment systems.

“The residents see a huge number of patients, and if you don’t have a system to keep track, it gets messy,” she said. “The residents are always looking for guidelines on how to organize; they want the rules, and I want to give that to them. It’s a symbiotic relationship. The more on top of it I am, the better off they are.”

Buddy and Sadie are Craemer’s fur babies.

Craemer also has passions outside of work. She has two cats, Buddy and Sadie, and a part time job at Fleet Feet that she loves. She’s part of the Oak City Softball League in Raleigh, and she plays every Sunday. She also loves tap dancing and founded a tap dancing club at N.C. State University, where she got her undergraduate degree. A master class in tap might also be on the horizon.

“I was almost a dance minor. I consider myself an honorary dance minor!” she laughs.

Craemer plays every Sunday in the Oak City Softball League.