Dimensions Brand Ambassador Ann Cote, RDH, MSHA, a dental hygienist with more than 17 years of private practice experience in addition to teaching part-time at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, Connecticut, shares how she is managing work and life responsibilities.
As a clinical dental hygienist, especially post-COVID-19, timing is key. It has always been important to stay on schedule, but with the addition of new safety protocols, there is very little wiggle room. If you are trying to juggle dental hygiene school, teaching hygiene classes, working in an office, and/or handling virtual learning at home— it may be hard to make it all work, but you can do it!
ASK FOR HELP
One helpful tip to keep the day running smoothly is to make sure you keep an eye on your schedule. If you fall behind or need help sticking to a schedule, it’s important to ask coworkers for help. Perhaps your coworker can take a patient into the operatory or take needed radiographs. If possible, the dentist can also do the exam before you see the patient. Patients coming in for treatment have been very understanding about the new guidelines and recommendations we have been implementing from the American Dental Association.
IN THE (VIRTUAL) CLASSROOM
Teaching my dental hygiene didactic courses online is a bit challenging. Having some familiarity with the platform my college uses for grading and posting discussions does help. I also took some webinar courses to learn how to create and post-exams and videos. If you run into problems with the college’s platform, I suggest reaching out to the information technology (IT) department. The IT team at my college has been very helpful.
If you are like me, finding a quiet place at home to record videos to post online for students can be a struggle. Normally, I would be on campus every Wednesday evening but because of COVID, I have to work from home like so many other educators and students. I find recording videos outside on my back deck is the best place to be due to limited distractions. Getting total quiet while teaching virtually is a real struggle, and nearly impossible in some cases. Educators and students understand the limitations.
I try my best to keep dental hygiene students engaged during distance learning—but it can be difficult. I make them accountable for checking into our weekly video chat meetings and grade them on their attendance each week. During the live class time, I address any questions my students may have from the week’s lecture and I assign a student to discuss a current dental topic each week. This seems to keep my students involved and excited each week.
TEACHING AT HOME
Distant learning with my elementary and middle-school children at home has been challenging, especially while trying to balance clinical work and teaching. I am grateful my husband works an opposite shift so he can help them through their schooling, but there are (and will be) many days when I come home from work and my day will not be over. I know there will be many nights that I will have to help my children with school while eating dinner after a long clinical day. One night a week I conduct my class from my kitchen table, which also a struggle, especially if my children need help with their homework.
We just have to remember, we are all in this together!