Ever heard the phrase “If it were easy, everyone would do it”? I tell that to my students frequently! Becoming a dental hygienist is not an easy path, it’s not just simply a 3 month certificate program that you can pass easily just by showing up and participating.
This is a real career program that you will have to work hard to succeed at. The classes are difficult and the clinical work is intense, but with proper dedication to your studies you will be successful.
This may be easier for some than others. Life responsibilities can easily distract from your studies, especially if you are a parent going through the dental hygiene program. You will have to learn to prioritize your time and learn a healthy balance between family and education. Eventually you will be balancing the family and career so this will be good practice for when that day finally comes.
DO NOT PROCRASTINATE
If you are by nature a procrastinator this will be a great time to change that habit. There is nothing more stressful in school than waiting until the night before a major exam or the night before a project is due to get started on it… only to realize that you no longer have enough hours left to do what needs to be done. Start assignments early!
HAVE A BACK UP PLAN
One of the most stressful parts of the dental hygiene program is being responsible for scheduling your own patients and relying on them to actually show up! You will be required to have a specific number of “chair hours” (hours that you actually have a patient in your dental chair) and you will be required to see patients of varying degrees of difficulty.
It is important to confirm with the patient that they will indeed show up for the appointment. Having a few “no shows” in a semester can be detrimental to your clinical requirements.
STUDY STUDY STUDY
Some of the classes you will take in your dental hygiene program include: oral anatomy and physiology, embryology, histology, oral pathology, pharmacology, community health, and many more. These classes cover a lot of material and it is to your benefit to keep up with your studies as you go.
Find what works for you whether it is making flash cards of key terms, group study, or finding a quiet place in the library. Studying the material in your classes will be essential to doing well on semester exams.
LEARN, NOT JUST MEMORIZE
Learning the course information for the important National Board exam you will take upon completion of the program or within your final semester is imperative. Memorizing the facts will only help you in the short run for quizzes and midterm exams.
You will need to KNOW this material for your board exams and there will be a vast volume of information that will accumulate over the 2 years you are in dental hygiene school. Learning as you go and not cramming for the board exam is one way to help you succeed.
KEEP THOSE GRADES UP
Different programs vary on what their GPA requirements are for passing the program. Some programs may allow a C average to pass, but many programs do not.
In the dental hygiene program in which I teach any clinical grade below an 80 is considered failing. That’s why staying current on assignments and studying routinely are so important. This is no longer English 101.
Dental hygiene school is a moderately difficult program, but if you are dedicated to your studies and keep your eye on the goal (a great career!) you will be successful. Your professors want to help you succeed. Utilize them; they have been in your shows. They are there to help you as long as you are doing everything you can to also help yourself succeed.