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Too slow and not confident enough!

I will be Starting my 2nd year of dental hygiene school in a couple weeks. I am somewhat nervous and lack some confidence in terms of time management and answering questions. I need to really step it up this semester! I want my instructors to know I’m doing and trying my best and I want it to show in every way possible. Can anyone offer any words of wisdom or advice to help me?!



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18 Answers

School is for learning so take advantage of that! Also quality is important, youll get quicker with practice and LOTS of it! Just treat your patients kindly and provide them with the best quality care and education and that will speak wonders to your instructors!

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I agree with both Avalene and Lrskda. Hygiene school is such a whirlwind and you are just trying to hold on. I always viewed school more as “hygiene boot camp” in a way and have found that everything started to come into place once I was out there and really able to hone my skills. Spend this time getting comfortable being inside the patients mouth, engaging with your patients and basic instrumentation. Experience and time will help with the rest. I was always told that I will not be “a seasoned” hygienist until I have been in private practice for around 5 years. I have been out of school for two years now and each day I am getting more efficient and learning something new. Now is the time to make mistakes, ask questions, and make more mistakes! Enjoy the journey

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Oh, and I would also say, try not to compare yourself with your other classmates. This was tough for me not to do. There usually will be some that will speed through things more quickly or some more slowly. Move at a pace that’s right for you. You never know, one student may be a lot faster but they could be missing some critical parts!

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Truthfully I believe that experience brings speed. Focus on doing the best possible job and you WILL grow and your teacher will notice!

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The most important thing is being thorough, speed will come naturally with experience.

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I agree w/ what the other posters have said. One way to improve your speed though is pulling patients fills in your schedule looking through them associating yourself w/ patterns in the chart. For example the intra oral inspections (assuming you do these) clearly if it’s noted they are missing tonsils have tori etc those things really aren’t going to change from the last visit still obviously look in the mouth for confirmation but it’s always much quicker if you already have an idea of oral conditions you can prepare yourself for it. Also getting all your clinic forms in order in the morning prior to your clinic if you know your going to take X-rays that day have your equipment, room sat up & permission/clinic forms ready and prepared to go before the pt arrives when your sitting up for clinic & making sure you have all the things at your station you might use so you can just grab it quickly. One thing in hygiene school that’s important the less time you spend having to run and get things the less time you waste.

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I have beend in private practice 3 years and I still struggle with confidence. Fake it til you make it as my instructors would say. Focus on proper techniques now and be thorough during your appointments. With repetition over time you will refine your skills and become quicker and gain confidence but you need to get the basics down first so you have a strong foundation to build on otherwise it can all fall apart. It doesn’t seem like it now but it does get better and easier.

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You will rely a lot on ultrasonic to speed the one hour process up when you finally get to the real world. What irritates me is most give up Perio Charting and that’s the most important. Plus…..school always makes you think your falling apart and will never be able to accomplish time management skills.

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Oh we’ve all been there…thinking we’ll never get faster..but we do…you will 🙂 Dont worry!

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I was told before I finished school that it would take 2 years in practice to feel confident. That advise rang true. Always remember your job is to give your patient your best. Experience will give you the timeliness you are wanting.

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I have found that finding a pattern that works for you and sticking with it. Be methodical. Always start in the same place and finish an area before moving on. Allot so much time per area/quadrant and keep an eye on the clock, but don’t drive yourself crazy. Speed will come with experience. 🙂

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Thank you ladies! 🙂

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I am just ending my second year and getting ready to graduate. Second year goes by fast and has what seems like impossible tasks that need to be completed. What helped me was being organized. I kept spinning my wheels with all the paperwork and I had to get up several times to get this or that. I made a check list of what I needed to get before hand which saved me a lot of time in the long run. Fill your clinical dates to the max. If you think you will finish a patient and have 1/2 left bring in another patient just for a FMX or assessments. Every second counts when you have limited space and time at school. Don’t worry if it takes you multiple appointments to finish a patient. Those skills will come with time. I think its important to get your routine down first before you start working on speed.

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Don’t even worry about it. Do what you are asked of in school and try to get the basics down. Its almost 3 years since I’ve graduated hygiene school and I honestly was kinda lost back then. If I was thrown back into the hygiene program right now, I would totally be the queen of the program. It all comes with time and experience. Im sure years from now, I’ll be even better. You’re in school and you will be FINE!

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It is OK to be nervous and unsure of yourself. Just remember you are still learning… speed will come with practice. So will confidence. Also know when you graduate, you will still be learning in practice. In school, I always struggled with bitewings and xcps. ..now in practice, my bitewings improved a lot and we use stabes. Just believe in yourself! You worked hard to get where you are and everyone, even the instructors, were once in your shoes. Good luck !

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I am a retired dental hygiene faculty member and former department chair. 35 years of helping students and I want you to know that every comment offered to you is the truth. It is quite amazing that each student and each program are different and almost exactly the same. First year students are to learn the basics and think about going slow. Second year students are expected to work more on accuracy and as time goes by speed “happens”. You can’t be both fast and accurate in the beginning and every day is sort of the beginning. Breath and relax and don’t worry about your faculty noticing you. They will. Day by day!

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You will be so incredibly surprised how fast you will get over this semester! Really, when I was heading into senior year I really felt the same way thinking “how am I ever going to get that fast?!” – Not sure how, but it just happens and next thing you know you are impressing yourself with how fast you have gotten! It truly is amazing. It will just come!

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Thank you so much for this post and all the wonderful answers of encouragement. I’m just finishing up my first year as well and having been out in 2nd year clinic to observe the students getting ready to graduate, I left not feeling inspired but rather feeling in-superior and not good enough to make it to the next step this summer for second year knowing I will have times assessments which right now take me at least 2-3 appointments to complete and the thought of having to complete one in 2.5 hrs is terrifying. It was very encouraging to read all the posts-thank you everyone.

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