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Dental Hygienist: Tammi Byrd, RDH

Cathy Sivak, Contributing Writer

Education Advice

You earned a dental hygiene associate’s degree from a technical college. Would you change anything about your education if you could? If so, what?

An associate degree in dental hygiene is much more than a two-year degree. It is just shy of a bachelor’s degree. If I could change something, I would have gone straight into a bachelors program and completed it. I would eventually like to have my master’s degree and/or a certificate in public health.

What factors should students consider when choosing a dental hygiene school or program?

Look for a bachelor’s program or assure that the school has a matriculation process in place to attain the bachelor’s degree. You spend far too much time on your education to settle for an associate degree.

How can students considering an education and career in dental hygiene assess their aptitude for the field?

I think caring for others should be first and foremost. After that, good manual dexterity and a desire for life-long learning.

What can students applying to dental hygiene programs expect during the admissions process?

Students should expect several interviews, testing for manual dexterity, and an aptitude test.

How should students expect the curriculum to prepare them meet the trends and challenges the field of dental hygiene faces over the next decade?

There will increased emphasis on public health. Many programs are implementing different career tracks for dental hygienists – public health, periodontics, pediatric dentistry, etc.

Based on your experience as an adjunct clinical course professor, can you offer any tips to students starting dental hygiene training?

Don’t ever settle for average. Anyone can reach that goal.

How could the dental post secondary educational system be changed to better serve students and society as a whole?

Increased public health knowledge, understanding and experience.

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