Student professionalism ... Make it happen!

July 29, 2005
ADHA membership opens the door to your professional image and mentoring opportunities.

by Kristine Hodsdon, RDH, Director of RDH eVillage

Why wouldn't a hygiene student want to begin to develop his/her professionalism while still in school? Unfortunately when asking some students, who think they have more than they can handle with requirements, exams, tracking and keeping clinical patients, etc., the term "professionalism" is too abstract of a concept. They believe it's an idea they do not need to consider until after graduation, after they are licensed, or land a job. The list of excuses could go on indefinitely.

Professionalism and its management are certainly untapped and misunderstood tools in a hygienist's career lexicon. By accepting responsibility and accountability for your career while still a student, you are in the driver's seat to continually learn about the shift to co-diagnostic hygiene exams, the constant stream of information in regard to oral health, and quality of life services. You can remain updated on products, manufacturers, and material science. You are alerted about advances in technology relating to efficient assessment, tracking, diagnostic, and or communication and the emerging and continual discussions and research supporting evidence-based dental hygiene practice. Grasping this concept is the best way to leap ahead of the already practicing hygienists. This can be accomplished two ways while you are a student.

• Align yourself with a mentor

• Join your professional association

My belief is that the simple things in life are the most precious. So it's very easy as a student to join the American Dental Hygienists' Association. Click on the following link, and learn about student membership, scholarships, exam tips, and more.

Now, how can you find a mentor? Easy, follow the second link provided. The link shows which dental hygiene schools have 100 percent membership of their full-time faculty If your school and its faculty already belong to the ADHA, it's a slam-dunk. Return to school in the fall and ask any educator to consider being your mentor. If your school is not included in the 100 percent faculty list, return to school in the fall and ask, "Why not?"

Staying connected to your association helps provide the background that leads you towards continual professionalism. "Professional" is packaged in all the services and procedures we provide. It's the bow on the gift when we interact with our patients, business colleagues, and employers. And, finally, it's what distinguishes the "cleaning crew" from the oral-health care professional.