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Career Part of the Dental Hygienist

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Job Description

Normally, dental hygienists explain patients what to do in order to practice oral hygiene and, at the same time, provide them with additional preventative dental care. They may record of the patient’s diseases after an examination of their teeth or gums (Noble, 2012). They also use ultrasonic devices to polish teeth, remove plaque and tartar. Their job also entails preparing laboratory tests for the dentists to interpret and working with them to treat a patient (American Dental Association [ADA], n.d., para. 3). Some counties and the District of Columbia allow these professionals to give anesthesia. Other states like Georgia and Texas have prohibited it (Bassett, Boynes, & DiMarco, 2011). Under Section 023 of the Florida Code of Regulations of Professions, Chapter 466, dental hygienists are only allowed to perform such delegated tasks as removing calculus deposits and stains from exposed surfaces of the teeth. However, at times, a patient of a registered dentist requests the services of a dental hygienist. In such instances, the dentist is to remain responsible for the care of the patient during this period (Regulation of Professions Code, 2005).

The American Dental Hygienists Association's Code of Ethics guides the conduct of a dental hygienist. It sets standards of behavior to be abided by these professionals. The fundamental principles of universality, complementarity, ethics, community, and responsibility guide the professionals (Manookian, 2014). The code also highlights core values the professionals need to follow. They include confidentiality, meaning that a dental hygienist should keep information entrusted to him/her by the client in secret. Autonomy is another value that guarantees the self-determination of the patient, while societal trust presupposes that patients and the society as a whole trust dental hygienists. Nonmaleficence ensures that the professionals do not cause harm to the patient, while justice and fairness mean that dental hygienists should be fair to the patient (Noble, 2012). The code also provides for disciplinary measures for dental hygienists who act in an unprofessional manner and fail to abide by the code. Such unprofessionalism can lead to censure, suspension, probation, and expulsion from the association (Manookian, 2014).

Education/Registration/Certification

To become a dental hygienist, one needs to acquire an associate degree in dental hygiene. However, to venture into clinical, teaching or research practice, a person needs to have a Master's or Bachelor's degree in dental hygiene. In high school, one should take courses in biology, chemistry, and mathematics. All the states require dental hygienists to be registered and licensed according to the American Dental Hygienists Association. However, for them to renew their license, they will be required to engage in continuing education. New York College of Dentistry is one of the best schools offering dental hygiene programs. It offers such degrees in dental hygiene as Bachelor of Science and an Associate in Applied Science. The tuition fee for the program is $67,404. It takes 45 months to complete the curriculum (New York University College Of Dentistry, n.d.). St.Petersburg College in Florida is another school offering this program. It offers such dental hygiene degree as Associate in Science. Here, the length of the program is two to three years full time with the cost being $ 105, 75 (“Dental Hygienists: Career”, n.d. para. 5).

Employment

There are many job positions available for dental hygienists. They include work in the fields of periodontics and pediatric dentistry. Dental hygienists can also work in hospitals, public health clinics and nursing homes providing dental hygiene services. Other job opportunities include research, business administration, office management, and marketing of dental-related supplies and equipment (ADA, n.d., para. 11). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment rates for dental hygienists in the country are expected to grow at a projected rate of 33 percent between 2012 and 2022 (“Dental Hygienists: Career”, n.d. para. 20). In Miami, dental hygienists job positions are frequently advertised. For example, on September 11, 2015, the Jessie Trice Community Health Care announced for the position of a registered dental hygienist. The local weekly publication and website Indeed placed the advertisement (Indeed, n.d, para. 8). During the same period, Miami Dade College advertised for the position of a part-time tutor in dental hygiene in the same publication. The candidate was expected to have a minimum of one year of tutoring experience (Indeed, n.d, para. 10). Experience is needed in this profession because dental matters are sensitive and need precision. Entry-level dental hygienists earn up to an average of a $31 an hour (Pay scale, 2015, para. 3). Experienced dental hygienists with less than five years of experience earn an average salary of $61,000 annually. The professionals with over five years of experience earn an average annual salary ranging from $68,000 to $72,000 (Pay scale, 2015, para. 3). A dental hygienist has good chances of advancement in the career. Usually, for a person to advance he/she is required to hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in dental hygiene. Opportunities include working in public heath institutions or lecturing in dental hygiene programs and education forums.

Professional Activities

The American Dental Hygienist Association caters for the welfare of the professionals countrywide. A student is allowed to join the association if he/she enrolls in an accredited dental hygiene program. He/she pays an annual payment of around $45 in an online quarterly scheme (American Dental Hygienists Association [ADHA], n.d., para. 1). There is also the Student American Dental Hygienists Association, which is a national association with state chapters. It offers students some benefits, such as access to information and professional contacts. Registration for national membership is $65, while for state membership is $10 (Student American Dental Hygienists Association, n.d., para. 11). There is also the Florida Chapter of American Dental Hygienists Association. It abides by the rules of the mother organization. The American Dental Hygienists Association produces the Journal of Dental Hygiene. It is an online publication distributed six times yearly. Members pay $6 of their membership dues to access it. The association also has Access magazine that shares issues critical to the dental hygiene profession. Members pay for it $5 of their membership fee (American Dental Hygienists Association, n.d., para. 5).

Continuing educational units are required for the advancement of career and renewal of license. The requirements are unique and vary in different states. In Florida, continuing education to renew licensure takes a period of 2 years at a cost of $105. The profession’s licenses are renewed in February of even years. The units need a total of 24 hours. The American Dental Hygienist Association is the provider of Continuing Education Units course. Its members are allowed to study on their own to earn credit. They can also meet continuing education requirements by volunteering in services, teaching in accredited programs or participating in peer reviews of board proceedings. Graduate students can join a residency program with the American Dental Hygienist Association or any other association to earn credit for the Continuing Education Units (ADHA, 2015, p. 2).

Reflection/Personal Career Path

My personal career plan involves lecturing on dental hygiene in the established dental schools of the country. My anticipated career, therefore, makes me fit for this profession. To achieve this goal, I need to have clear-cut objectives. They include me enrolling in both the American Dental Hygienists Association and its student version, graduating with honors from Miami Dade College, and getting an internship at a prestigious medical establishment. My strategies include networking and attending seminars of the Association sponsors that will help me in getting professional connections and access to information on this profession. I also plan to enroll in Continuing Education Units that will assist me in the advancement of my career. Hopefully, I will come back to this institution as a lecturer in dental hygiene.

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