Dental hygiene school is 2 cram-packed years of content. There will be tears. There will be fights. There will be days you wish you can go back to simpler times. My goal here is to give you somethings to think about as you start this journey. Here are a few very important lessons I learned along the way.
Record your lectures
My pharmacology professor only lectured. LITERALLY, she never had any visuals or slides. The closest we got to a picture was her spelling out medication names on the white board. Two students in my graduating class failed the previous year because they thought they could write notes based off her lectures and did not record her.
Most professors use slides and make sure the slides are accessible online for their students. Still there are some professors who give more information verbally and recording them is always a benefit. If you feel you have adequate information from the slides and notes, you can always delete the recording.
Recordings can be sent and airdropped if, heaven-forbid, you miss a day and you have a friend who can send it to you. I recommend making friends at school and sharing content for both of your benefit.
Reconnect with old friends
You will be in charge of finding your own patients to treat. Even worse is they will have to meet certain criteria. For example you will need a “class 4” patient. That means a patient who has A LOT of plaque that you have to clean off. Finding patients like these can be quite the task, but ultimately is your responsibility.
The dental clinic/school you will be working at might have some basis of clientele and maybe have some returning patients throughout the years. You have to remember that they need to spread the wealth to your fellow classmates and this may not bring you much avail.
My one big tip here to to tell everyone you are in hygiene school and will be needing patients. Post about your clinic on Facebook and Instagram and ask people if they will be willing to be your patient. Make sure to tell them what to expect! A patient who does not know they need to come back several times may not be able to come back and therefore mess up your grade. That being said, I found that more people are willing to help than you think so ask anyone and everyone!
Save money for your instruments and supplies
Depending on the school you go to, your instruments may be part of your overall bill. For my school this was NOT the case. We had our tuition and fees to pay and on top of that, we had to come up with thousands of dollars for our “kits”. Some students could use their loan money to pay for these items but if that was not an option for you, it was out of pocket cash!
Somethings you may be required to pay for include:
- Disposable lab jackets
- Scalers, syringes, polishing pieces
- Board exam fees
I could always count on paying an extra $1,000 or more each semester for supplies. You may also want to think about buying new instruments for your national boards. Having used your instruments all year, you want to give yourself the best for the boards and so buying a couple fresh scalers may be in your best interest.
Be nice to your professors, Even if they aren’t
It makes sense that once you graduate your professors become your peers. I’ve worked and gone out with a few of my professors and never in a million years would I have thought this would EVER be a thing in any field. Dental hygiene is a community where everyone knows everyone and word spreads fast. This is especially true if your school is relatively close to your hometown and surrounding areas you may be working in.
Dental hygiene school is a very tense and fast paced environment. You may not agree with all your professors and their decisions especially when it comes to grades. The one thing I learned being in the field is that everyone works and learns differently.
Take criticism with a grain of salt and move on. Know that they have worked with many students and you are no different. You may need their professional recommendation or you may even be working with them at some point. You do not want to start off a job with bad blood. If the situation was threatening to your career or down-right wrong speak to your advisor or the coordinator of the program to sort the issue out in a professional manner.
Have a planner to map out study time
Whether you work through hygiene school, have a family, or still live with your parents you need a routine! Go to target right now and get yourself an AFFORDABLE and cute planner.
You need to carve out time to study daily and have time for yourself as well. I cannot tell you the tears I’ve spilled because I forgot myself. Self care may sound cliche but its necessary to survive this time. I remember studying pharmacology from when I woke up until I went to sleep at night. My fiance would ask to take me to dinner and I would shun him away saying I had to study.
I would get annoyed at him for asking and mad at myself for being cruel. It took me a while to map out a good routine since I was working and have twin boys of my own. However once I found a couple hours a week for self care I slept better. My relationship improved and I did better educationally as well. Don’t forget you my darling, you matter!
Invest in study content
Not only will you be spending coin on school and your instrument kits, but your exams will be costly and so will the study material. When I was in school the exam study materials available were expensive! I paid upwards of $400 for 3 months of access to online study content.
Shout out to my anatomy professor who bought the national board exam study key cards which were hundreds of dollars. She would bring them to class and let us take pictures and study them. Okay so I admit, they are Extremely helpful. Your professors’ questions and the questions on the boards may be similar but they are not the same.
The study content out there is going to help you focus on what you need for the boards while your professors want you to know a lot more of the material specifics. Don’t get me wrong their information is incredibly important, but being able to hone in on the board questions is going to give you a leg up on someone who is trying to remember everything from every class.
Study in groups
Chances are your hygiene class will not be big. Make friends with everyone! You guys will help and benefit from working together more than you know. For example:
You just filled the requirement for sealants on your nephew but he still has two more teeth that could use sealants. Maybe your neighbor still needs that requirement and so you can hand your patient off to her. In return she records a lecture you were absent for. See where I’m going with this?
Studying in groups is probably one of the best study tips I could give you. When you are trying to understand a concept it is extremely helpful to discuss the concept rather than just hear about it. Group work also allows you to read over each other work making sure you have the right information and sound professional. Hygiene is a circle of love, spread the wealth and you may be rich twice!
Hygiene school is full of unexpected events and no one can ever completely prepare you for the journey ahead. I hope to have at least given you somethings to think about and consider before you attend.
- Record your lectures
- Reconnect with old friends
- Save money for your instruments and supplies
- Be nice to your professors, Even if they aren’t
- Have a planner to map out study time
- Invest in study content
- Study in groups
If you are already a student or have gone through hygiene school, leave a comment on what you wish you had known.