Every two years as a licensed dental hygienist in the state of Iowa, I must report my continuing education credits for re-licensure to the Iowa Board of Dental Examiners. This year as I am reviewing my records and compiling the last two years of my learning opportunities, I am in awe.
I have been in practice since 1973 when I graduated from the University of Hawaii. Needless to say some things have changed over the years! Who would ever have guessed the scope and variety of the things I am continuing to learn! In looking through the listing of classes I have attended, I am amazed by the scope, breadth, and variety of topics contained in what I have most recently learned!
- Been certified in the use of lasers for dental hygiene therapy
- Learned about the role of the dental team in sleep medicine
- Reviewed new preventive therapies and products including fluoride varnish and xylitol for reducing and eliminating cavities
- Learned about saliva testing for periodontal disease and dental decay
- Discovered more about testing for the DNA markers for the genetic links for the predisposition to dental disease
- Taken nutrition classes to learn about nutrition for women’s health, nutrition for oral health, and dietary supplements for oral health
- Been certified in CPR and OSHA, and attended reviews on infection control
- Taken over 24 hours of continuing education on the most recent data regarding periodontal disease alone
- Taken more than 13 hours of continuing education just on learning about new products, both prescribed and over the counter
- Given classes in dental yoga for jaw relaxation and stress reduction
- Heard more about myofunctional therapy to change swallowing patterns and orthodontic development for children and people with sleep disorders
So I just added up the total hours of my continuing education to report to the Iowa Board of Dental Examiners and discovered that I have taken 73.5 hours of continuing education in the two year biennium from September 2009 until the end of this month -- 39 of those just since the beginning of this year! (This is not counting the non-clinical courses on behavioral and spiritual development, and business management and marketing classes that the Board of Dental Examiners does not recognize for re-licensure.) The required number of continuing education by the state is 30 hours – so I was very surprised to learn that I have more than twice what is required!
Along with preparing my re-licensure application I am also in the midst of preparing to host my dental hygiene classmates from the University of Hawaii. It’s the first time we have gathered in Iowa, but we have gotten together almost every 5 years since 1973. This year, I want to pull out this list and compare notes with my buddies. I wonder if they are as excited as I am to be a dental hygienist.! I wonder if they believe, as I do, that there has never been a better time to be learning, un-learning, re-learning, and exploring the myriad of opportunities research and scientific data has given us for continuing and integrating evidence-based clinical and behavioral dental hygiene practice. I can’t wait to talk with my friends who have shared the history, the passion, and the commitment to dental hygiene with me. I can’t wait to be with the same friends who helped me get through chemistry, microbiology, pharmacology, and so much more. I know we will have a wonderful time!
(… And there will be a luau too!)
-- Sharon Kuttler, RDH