By Diane Chandler, RDH
I am an instructor at an inter-city community college with a dental hygiene program. After 11 years of teaching, I don't think there is one class that I have had in which some students did not feel singled out by an instructor. I think it is just the frustration of learning a skill. Human nature is that you have to have someone to blame. The point I want to make is the instructor has a job to do, and that is to prepare you for both the written and practical board exam. That job is not easy. Unless we do our job well, however, our students are going to be a lot unhappier when they do not pass.
Learning a skill is not a one-time deal. A skill takes time. The only way to build that skill is over a period of time — one patient at a time. Every patient brings to a student a different learning curve. And there is something to be learned with each patient. Unfortunately, some students think they can completely learn their skill after completing a few patients and that is just not the case.
What I would like to say to all students is that the instructor really does not have time to "single you out." She has too much work to do. If you particularly like one instructor, if your personalities are alike, then let her be your mentor and learn from her. As far as the other instructors are concerned, learn how to deal with their personalities. Think of this as additional training for when you are dealing with difficult patients. Many people skills can be learned by doing that. I have been out of school a long time. As I reflect on my hygiene school days, it was from the demanding instructors that I really became better at what I do.
Diane Chandler, RDH, is a part-time instructor at Wayne College Community College District in Detroit.