Getting through dental hygiene school is not easy. It requires dedication, organization, focus, and finding levity in stressful situations. Prioritizing self-care and time to connect with peers is a must to help you get through the demanding schedule. If you are just beginning or one year into your dental hygiene program, we want you to know you’re not alone.
Dimensions Brand Ambassador Rachel Brown, a first-year dental hygiene student, shares how she is making it through this unprecedented time at Central Georgia Technical College in Macon, Georgia.
The world was turned upside down a few months ago. As a mom of two kids, wife of 13 years, and full-time dental hygiene student, it felt like my life came crashing to a halt. I was going 100 miles an hour and suddenly, I could not leave the house to go to class, or even go to the grocery store. Everything I had known for the past few years was at a standstill. To be honest, I was freaking out. I also had to begin homeschooling my two daughters who are in fifth and second grades, while also transitioning my own curriculum online.
ENTERING THE UNKNOWN
I was one week away from seeing my first patient before the stay at home order was implemented. Only one week away! My classmates were blowing up my phone with concerns; we were all in a frenzy wondering if we would get to return to classes for the remainder of the semester. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to return to class, but we all succeeded, and have recently started our senior year entirely online. I am so thankful for my classmates; it is reassuring to know I am not on this journey alone.
However, so many unknowns are still lingering. I am ready to be back in the clinic; I am ready to see patients and provide dental hygiene care. I crave routine. My mind, body, and soul flourish when I know exactly what is expected of me, and when it is expected. Now I am staying up later, sleeping in, and spending time with my daughters, husband, and fur baby. After the first 2 months, I had a slight episode of quarantine depression, being inside and sulking in anxiety, fear, and stress of the unknown had taken its toll.
MAKING IT WORK
I was relieved when this semester started. Now I jump online for WebEx classes twice a week, and actually miss getting up at 6 am four days a week to be at school on time. This is not how I had imagined my senior year would start out. They are anticipating classes to resume at the school this fall, but still, so much is unknown. Recently, I was notified that the dental materials lab was approved for a limited number of students at a time. Only four students at a time and the instructor, and we are only allowed to work on a typodont. My instructors are very hopeful that we will be allowed back into the clinic for limited labs as well, with us only seeing patients who must be residents of our household, and no more than 10 people in the clinic at a time. Fingers crossed! We must make up for all missed clinic days to meet our graduation requirements on time.
I know that once everything opens back up my life will be thrown for another loop and I will immediately have to hit the gas. My kids are expected back to school in the fall with many stipulations, such as staying 6 feet apart, wearing masks, frequent hand washing, and other safety measures. I am just trying to keep my cool for as long as I can. I want to relax and enjoy this time at home, but as a parent, wife, and student it can be hard to not become overwhelmed with the “what ifs.” Sometimes you must take what life throws at you and adapt, I am not particularly good at that. I suppose this is a learning experience.
WE CAN DO THIS!
As a fellow dental hygiene student, I just want to encourage you to vent with your classmates. I was an introvert going into dental hygiene school but I had to come out of my shell to be able to educate patients. And this experience also allowed me to vent to my classmates and create new friendships that I hope continue after graduation. In times like this, it is nice to have others to lean on for support. We are all in this together, trying to learn and grow to be professional and courteous registered dental hygienists. I will persevere and so will you.