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.
Welcome to today’s TIPisode. My name is Jessica Atkinson with Hygiene Edge, and as a Hygiene Edge-ucator, I’m here to talk to you about having a team mentality in clinical dental hygiene.
I really feel like Henry Ford nailed this idea on the head with his quote “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success.”
Coming together in clinical dental hygiene education means that you have adjunct faculty, full-time faculty, part-time faculty, all kinds of faculty coming from varied experiences in dental hygiene.
I’ve worked with dozens of clinical dental hygiene educators, some with 20 plus years’ experience in our profession, some that were beginners. I’ve worked with people who’ve worked in perio offices for years, corporate offices, ma and pa offices, and I even worked with someone who worked in a veterinary office. So many different aspects of dental hygiene come to fruition in the clinical realm as our students are learning from variety of backgrounds.
Keeping together is progress. That progress means that you have a responsibility as a clinical dental hygiene educator to really be familiar with the policy and procedures of the institution where you work. It is up to you to make sure that you know how to lead students in best practices and evidence-based decision making.
Now, with our varied backgrounds, we may have experiences where we did one thing or another thing in this or that office. As a clinical educator, you have to ask yourself “Was that a habit that really is helpful for my students to understand and leads them to best practices? Or was that a habit born of, eh, maybe insurance? Ah! Was that a habit that was maybe born from the situation that your boss put you in? Or was it actually born from science?” So keeping together is progress as we all buy into what our institution is teaching our students, and that’s also a process.
I remember when I was in school, and I was educated on a completely different perio classification than I am currently teaching in clinic. And I know many of you fall into that same bucket. Remember that that process happens through calibration. Really make sure that you are involved in the calibration that’s offered at your institution. And, if you have a question, ask. There is a line of command when it comes to asking questions within a clinical scenario that I have experienced. I’ve worked in three different hygiene schools, and three different hygiene schools had three different things they did: this, that, and the other. How do we do this? How do we do that? How do we do this and that? And it was up to me to really make sure that I was getting the right information in order to relay that as an instructor to a student.
Think back when you were a student in dental hygiene. Remember how frustrating it was when you heard one thing from one instructor and then a completely different thing from a completely different instructor? Get the information from the clinic coordinator. Definitely support each other. When there is a question that you don’t really know, instead of sharing what you think it might be, direct the clinician or your fellow clinical educator to the clinic coordinator. That’s how we work together to become successful.
As Henry Ford said, “Working together is success.” Working together means having each other’s back. Not bad-mouthing each other’s decisions behind each other’s backs. Not telling the student that you disagree with something that another clinical instructor did or said. Instead, in those situations, this is an opportunity to really teach your students critical thinking and teach your students how to back their own dental hygiene diagnosis with the evidence that they have found in their patient’s mouth, in their patient’s health history, in their interactions with their patient.
So have that conversation with the student. “Tell me about this diagnosis. What evidence do you have that supports moving forward with this?” And, in my personal experience and where I work, you don’t ever change what somebody else decided, and if you really think that there is an issue, go to the clinic coordinator. The clinic coordinator has the ability to take a look at that and make a decision that will help the student move forward as sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation where, if you let things continue, it could be at the detriment of the student’s understanding of how to apply the latest and greatest staging and grading or a policy and procedure that’s gone unnoticed or not upheld.
So, when things happen in that realm, make sure you’re going to the clinic coordinator instead of going to instructors and saying, “Ah, did you see what so and so did? I can’t believe she’s here. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” There is no room for backbiting when you want a successful education environment for your students. There just is no room at all. No room for backbiting. There is room for growth. There is room for calibration. And those things happen by bringing that to the attention of your clinic coordinator. And, as that is brought to attention more often, then the clinic coordinator can understand what areas you need to focus on for calibration for your group.
So remember that working together means supporting one another as you teach our students how to be the best at what they can be. We are teaching the future of our profession, and as we do that with a team mentality, they will become the best they can be.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.