For some, surviving the three years of dental hygiene school is enough. Earning the RDH title is a feat in and of itself. For others, however, the buck doesn’t stop there. Becoming a dental hygiene instructor is a great next-step.
After being in the clinic for a few years, some people chose the beaten path of higher education and go for a master’s or bachelor’s degree.
If you love sharing information, experience, and knowledge, then becoming a dental hygiene instructor may be the next step in your career.
Below we will cover: what the duties of a dental hygiene instructor are. We will also look at the perks of becoming one, as well as a simple to follow a four-step plan that can get you there.
The Duties of a Dental Hygiene Instructor
Training new dental hygienists at community colleges and universities is a rewarding career. You instruct students in both lab and classroom settings.
You will teach students different techniques.
Things like applying fluorides and sealants as well as how to remove tartar and staining. Dental hygiene instructors teach students how to teach healthy oral-care to patients and how to take Xrays.
It’s your job to share knowledge and help new students learn everything about dental hygiene.
What’s the Best Part About Being a Dental Hygiene Educator?
Transitioning away from clinical practice to an educator is not a difficult path to follow, it just takes some time and commitment.
Today more than ever dental programs and new therapies are available. That means there’s a high demand for educated dental professionals, which then translates into the need for more dental hygiene educators.
Understanding the value of passing on education and inspiring students to always keep learning is an important underlying characteristic of a great dental hygiene instructor.
How Can I Become a Dental Hygiene Instructor?
You should have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene and three to five years of experience. Experience is key.
How can you teach what you have yet to learn? You should have your dental hedge license and CPR certificate as well.
If you have the wherewithal (energy) and passion, pay attention to details and possess compassion, then you have what it takes to be a successful dental hygiene instructor.
Do your research to ensure becoming an instructor and educator is the right fit for you. Nobody has the time or money to waste on a degree they don’t need or want.
However, if you have a passion for teaching and you want to get there, go for it! Here are four simple steps that will get you there.
Step A: Educate
Dental hygiene educators need a minimum of a BA in dental hygiene. Typically a student would start a dental hygiene program in their fourth year of school.
Some universities may expect you to pass courses in nutrition, and microbiology before being eligible. Step A is all about being educated, this is ground-zero for learning about pain management, anatomy, and even periodontics.
Step B: License
You must have experience as a dental hygenist if you want to teach it. You need to be licensed to practice. You’ll also have to get CPR certified as well. The American Dental Association’s Commission on National Dental Examinations exam is accepted by all states.
Pro tip: Some states may accept or require different exams, do your due diligence. Once you pass your exam, you get your license, congratulations! Now, you have to keep your license. You are required to keep your license current An important requirement is keeping your license current.
Continuing education hours and paying a fee is typically how you would renew your dental hygienists’ license, but the actual requirements vary by state.
Step C: Get Experience
Practicums are the starting point of gaining experience on how to perform typical dental hygiene tasks. You’ll eventually get hired, and at the clinic, you’ll most likely follow an experienced hygienist until the clinic thinks you’re ready to work one-on-one.
You’ve got to pay your dues before you consider becoming a dental hygiene instructor. One of the requirements for becoming an educator is time. On average you will have to work a minimum of three years in a clinic as a hygienist.
Pro tip: College and joining dental associations is a great way to network, find job leads, and surround yourself with like-minded people.
Step D: Repeat Step A
There are many routes you can take when it comes to up your education-game. One big question you’ll want to ask yourself is do I want to pursue a master’s in Educating or a master of Science related. There are some courses that will give credit toward work experience.
In A Nutshell
Being a dental hygiene instructor is a rewarding career with a fairly simple path to follow. Earn your BA or MA, get your license, and get hands-on clinical experience!
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