This week on A Tale of Two Hygienists TIPisode we are joined by Jessica Atkinson, MEd, BSDH, RDH from Hygiene Edge to talk about helping your students to get the most out of clinic! Educators this one is for you!
Review student requirements and patient needs
Help beyond requirements
Set that dream list
Michelle Strange: A Tale of Two Hygienists presents this week’s TIPisode: quick and easy tips to keep you up to date and presented by the experts in the profession. Now, get ready for your unofficial TIPisode.
Jessica Atkinson: This TIPisode is brought to you in part by Orascoptic. To learn more about their loupes, frames, headlights and more, visit orascoptic.com.
Hello, I’m Jessica Atkinson, one of the Dental Hygiene Edge-ucators from Hygiene Edge, and I am excited to share with you some of my favorite things to become an effective clinical educator.
The majority of my work experience as a hygiene educator is in clinical education. Over the last nine-ish years, I have been involved in three different hygiene schools: a private school, an associate program, and bachelor degree programs. And I want to share with you five things that you can do as a clinical instructor to help your students get the most out of clinic that I have learned from my own personal experience.
As a dental hygiene clinical educator, you are a manager, a coach, and a cheerleader, and all five of my suggestions stem from you being such. A clinical instructor needs to take charge of your pod, your team, or your group, whatever you call it, at the school that you work at. And all five of my suggestions start with one focus meetings [sic]. Focus meetings is the place to start. I have heard many times in my life “when you start right, it’s easier to go right.” This is one of those situations.
My suggestion here is for you to get to work early. That’s ideal. My day starts better in clinic when I am early. This helps me get a hold of what I’m doing, get all the stuff that I need. And, in the particular place that I’m in right now, I need to grab my tablet, I need to grab all of my PPE and be prepared to assist my students.
I recommend a focus meeting with each individual student and as a team. Now, if you don’t have time to do all of that, I would choose a focus meeting with each individual versus the focus meeting as a team. The reason why I would choose the focus meeting with the individual is because as a clinic instructor, you have the ability to manage the team knowing each individual part. It is really beneficial when each student can meet together as a team and share different experiences that they need to accomplish during the day or ask questions of the team as a whole. Sometimes, that just doesn’t work out. So for sure prioritize meeting with each individual student.
And at that meeting comes my second tip. You’ll want to review the student requirements and the patient needs, and you’ll want to match those requirements with the needs. I had a mentor of mine talk about her experience when she worked in an office that was production based. Her observation was that she ended up offering the patient the things that they needed more often in a production-based office than she did when she was working in a office [sic] that she didn’t necessarily feel that responsibility to often [sic] certain toothbrushes or certain add-ons that she did in her production office. And this really opened my eyes to what it could be like in clinic for students.
Patients are not requirements. However, when you remember that you need to do a nutritional counseling, all of a sudden you are doing a nutritional counseling. When you need sealants, all of a sudden so many more people need sealants. Now, those people needed sealants before there was a requirement to do so, but for some reason when you review what you need to accomplish, those things are more at the forefront of your mind, and you are screening patients. And, getting in the habit of screening patients for need rather than time, rather than necessarily money, you’re giving yourself the opportunity as a student to get in the habit of looking for needs. Whether they be your needs or the needs of your patient, you will recognize that often they are the same. Your needs are the same.
So my recommendation for you as a clinical instructor is to remind your patients that you want the same thing in the end, and that’s the best care possible, and you can get what you need when you offer the best care to your patients.
My third tip is ask the student what they need help with that’s beyond requirements. Do they need help with exploring even though they’re not ready to pass off a skill evaluation? Do they need some tips and tricks with ergonomics even though they’re not doing a particular pass off when it comes to ergonomics? You’ll want to create a situation where the student feels comfortable with you observing them when it’s not a graded scenario. I found this to be very effective in increasing student confidence and skill. So I ask the student what they would like me to help them with and how I can support them in their education and give them five minutes observing whatever they choose not associated with a grade.
Now, you might be a coach, a manager, and a cheerleader, but nobody wants to be babysat. So having this conversation at the get-go, telling your student that you want to support them, asking for their feedback, and also opening up the discussion to “I’ll be watching you. I’ll come by and give you tips and tricks.” Just really setting the stage for an interactive learning experience throughout clinic.
Being a clinical instructor is a busy job. You are so busy. You’re working from the start of clinic until past the end of clinic, and that really is showing your students that you’re invested in the kind of clinician they will become.
My fourth tip is to create a dream list with the student that if clinic went all their way, what would that look like? What would they pass off? What would they get help with? How would their patient respond? Give them a space to dream.
And then my fifth tip: set expectations. “Now, student, this is what you want to get done today. You have 5 things you want to pass off, 25 things you need help with, and 45 questions. I will be able to get to 2 pass-offs, 1 observation, and 10 of your questions.” [Laughing]. You’ll want to take that dream list and then, with the information you have from all of the other students that you met with at the beginning of clinic, really curate a set list that they can look forward to getting done. I like to support them in their dream list by giving them a realistic idea of what will happen, and when I have time or if I have time, I will get to more things on their dream list depending on what is happening with the team as a whole.
So those are my five tips to help your students get the most out of clinic. The first starts with focus meetings. Definitely individual focus meetings. Ideally, group/team/pod focus meetings together with everyone that you are observing that day, teaching that day, and managering that day, cheerleading that day. It is so nice to be able to meet with them all together because they do learn from each other.
My ideal is to have a focus meeting at the beginning of clinic and at the end of clinic. Beginning of clinic setting expectations; end of clinic definitely reflecting on how those expectations were met or not met and doing paperwork, learning from each other, having students share their experiences with their patients in order for them to grow as a group.
Number two: review requirements and patient needs because remember when you are holding yourself to the highest standard of treatment and offering those things to your patients, often your needs are met as well as the patient needs are met.
Number three: what does the student need help with beyond requirements? Giving them an opportunity to be observed and helped that’s not attached to a grade is a game changer. While you’re not a babysitter, you are an instructor, and to create an environment where that is a no-brainer, that that is just the way things are, that’s the culture that you create is very helpful.
Number four: set that dream list — “If you could have this go all your way, what would that look like?” — followed up by expectations. “I will be able to do this, this, and this. I will be able to make sure each one of you gets one thing passed off, make sures each one of you gets some time with me one-on-one, and make sure that I am able to be available when you need me. With that being said, if I have time, we can do more on that dream list.”
I hope this helps you as a clinical educator. As you invest in those students, they will feel that enthusiasm, and you will see them grow and become and excel. It’s my favorite part of clinical instruction to watch students understand what you’ve been telling them, apply it, and see it change the lives of their patients — the lives of their patients and in their own life. To be able to watch them recognize how far they’ve come is amazing, and I hope these five tips help you be more effective in helping those students get the most out of clinic every day.
Now, let’s end this TIPisode with a focus meeting. Looking back on the TIPisode, I hope you had some notes that were taken that will help you be the best clinical educator that you can be. Your students need you, they’re grateful for you, and you can make a positive difference in their life. Have a great day.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at email@example.com, and keep listening for more awesome conte