(Closed) Is anyone going to school to be a Dental Hygienist?

posted 8 years ago in Career
Post # 5
Member
2207 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

From the people I know, it is like a lot of other “second-level” professions, like paralegal and nurses. These aren’t as prestigious of jobs as doctor, lawyer, or dentist, so while academics are certainly important, getting that first job and establishing yourself is the key. But once you do, you are a super hot commodity. Honestly, at my law firm for example, it would be a lot easier to replace a mid-level attorney than it would be to replace our paralegal. I also have an aunt who is a dental hygienist, and has been working for 15 years. She makes her own hours now, and her demands are met at work, because the dentists are too scared of losing her. Basically, these less prestigious professions wield a lot of the real power.

But the practical takeaway is that it’s hard to get started, but once you do and establish yourself with a good dentist’s office, it is a great career. In the long run, it is probably a choice you won’t regret.

Post # 6
Member
14183 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

Have you done any shadowing? I really recommend you spend a day or two shadowing someone before you change your career completely. You’ll lose a lot of your business credits (which i’m guessing was going for a BA?) and end up with a certification? I’m not 100% sure how it works. If having your hands in peoples’ mouths all day doesn’t bug ya….go for it, haha. I’m SO not a mouth person! But do shadow to be 100% SURE it’s what you want to do.

As far as competing with jobs is concerned, all you can do is pad the heck out of your resume. Volunteer, shadow, part time job in the field, etc. And get really good grades! Give yourself the competitive edge.

Post # 7
Member
5778 posts
Bee Keeper

Hmmm…I’ve never heard it referred to as a second level profession OR on a comparable level as a paralegal either. Most RDH programs are very hard to get into, as class sizes are limited, and courses are demanding. Aside from class time, you spend many hours in clinic (with the added stress of obtaining your own patients) as well as office rotations, volunteering for projects on the weekends,do hospital/nursing home/classroom visits, writing presentations,etc. There are also pre-requisite courses they suggest before you can even be considered for admission. You are also told ( on your pre-admission interview), that they do not suggest you work at all during the program. For the ones that do work,something usually has to give…job or grades. They essentially cram a 4 year degree into a 2 year program, so be prepared to give up a lot of your life if you decide to pursue it. Admission will also depend on the results of the DHAT (Dental Hygiene Apptitude Test) as well as any prior sciences that meet the requirements. Most classes are geared to hygiene (Head & Neck Science),but most of my pre-req’s were with nursing students.

On completion, you have to take and pass 4 sets of boards to become licensed. Law & Ethics, Radiology, NERB’s(North East Regional Boards) and National Boards (depending on your state,but I see you’re in Florida,so NERB). In Florida, jobs are scarce, pay is low, and from what I understand, the field is saturated. Several states have many hygienists looking for jobs longer than a year now, so it is something to consider.

If I had it to do over,I think I might have chosen nursing instead. With hygiene, you usually get no benefits other than your salary, and there’s nowhere to go in the profession…unless you go to dental school. On the plus side, you work alone (but still have to deal with office politics), you used to be able to work making as much PT as someone else working FT, you have close patient contact, its extremely rewarding helping people obtain better,healthier mouths, and if you’re lucky, you can find a place to work where you don’t work nights and Saturdays.

I’d check into the Florida hygiene stats first if I were you. Their State Boards are among the hardest for people moving into the area (none are reciprocal as yet) and look around for some hygiene sites and do some reading.One is Amy,RDH which has forums for both students as well as practitioners. Might give you some insight.

Post # 8
Member
2207 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

@ smyley: I put it is quotations marks for that reason. I have the utmost respect for the professionals who do a lot of the actual work, and don’t get as much credit, that was my only point. By The Way, all of the paralegals I know and work with are college educated and certified.

Post # 9
Member
5778 posts
Bee Keeper

Forgot to add that you ahould look up the program you’re interested in attending to see their particular requirements. Both high school and college transcripts are required as well as SAT or ACT scores, and prior classes in Bio and Chem in HS with a minimum grade and GPA for transfer. Our science classes were BIO, Chem, Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology, Head & Neck Sciences,Dental Anatomy & Nutrition,Pharmacology,Periodontology,Radiology (can’t remember the rest right now).

A typical school day for me was from 7am to 6pm,5 days a week(study at nights and weekends). Our class started with 22, 2 dropped out by end of first semester, we graduated 16.

Do it now before kids! That makes it much more difficult…

Post # 10
Member
1932 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2008

I’m not going to school for that, but our landlord is! haha 🙂

Post # 11
Member
194 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I’m a practicing hygienist, and I love it! 

Have you worked in a dental office before?  I totally recommend shadowing for just a day, the work pays great but does a number on your body…it’s a physically demanding job and remember you will be doing the same exact thing for 8 hrs straight!

I got a post-bach certificate in Hygiene, b/c I already have my BA.  To get in to my school (Forsyth in Boston) I just had to take my science prereqs, and I’ve never heard of the DHAT, maybe that’s a regional thing?  I know it’s not required for admission to schools in the Northeast.

As far as working now, I work in two offices (part time in both equaling a full time work week), and in one office,  I am fortunate to have my health insurance and a 401k.  It all depends on the practice and the doctor!

pm me if you’d like more info, or have any more questions!

Good luck

Post # 12
Member
35 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: July 2011

There are very few Dental Hygiene jobs around so that is something to consider, I graduated last May and there is only 2 of us out of my graduating class that have a job, that is 2 out of 26.  I am lucky to be one of the girls, but the dentist I work for is such a jerk and I only work when there is patients, so its kind of like I am on call… I have been putting resumes out everywhere with no reply, so I would consider the job market..  I am seriously thinking about going back to school for nursing.. 🙁

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