Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dental Hygiene Class of 2010

The day we had been anticipating for 2 long years finally came on Thursday May 20, 2010. Myself, along with about 75% of my class (and about 2000 other graduates) lined up and walked into the Tucson Convention Center to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance.

We were graduating Dental Hygiene School.

What a relief!

It was a very long ceremony, especially when the 2 speakers before the name were read took about 45 minutes on their own. One of them had come from the White House (?) and essentially turned her speech into a political campaign. She even was bold enough to bring up border issues and the new SB1070...at a community college graduation...in a city less than 100 miles from the U.S./Mexico border...

I just went to graduate, not to choose a political party or a side in the great border issue debate.

All in all, I walked across that stage and was so thrilled to have finally completed and accomplished a goal I had been dreaming of for at least 10 years.

Here are a few pictures from the event:

(My bestie from hygiene school Jessica and I)

While it wasn't a huge celebration like my UA graduation was, with only my dad, step mom and hubby attending the ceremony this time, it was still extremely satisfying for me and my classmates. This is what we'd been working toward for 2 very long, arduous years, and we finally made it to the end!

Congrats PCC Class of 2010!

Clinical Boards

I had the great pleasure of taking my clinical board exam in downtown Phoenix on Mother's Day... at 8 am.

Dan and I drove to Phoenix for my "orientation" to the clinic the day before. It was nice because it was at the same location that I took my anesthesia boards at back in March. I was familiar with the layout and location of the clinic which eased my stress a lot. Dan waited in the lobby of the clinic for me while I sat through a 45 minute orientation to the exam and it's specific protocols and procedures.

When we got out to the car to leave, I had a voicemail waiting on my phone. It was from my patient...

My patient Maya, was supposed to drive from Tucson to Chandler that day also (the day before) and was going to stay with her aunt overnight so she would be sure to be to the clinic on time the next morning.

While I was in orientation, she called and left me a message saying that she was on her way out of Tucson and her car overheated. There was no way she was going to be able to get it fixed that day and she was thinking of anything she could to get to Phoenix.

At that moment, I almost had a heart attack/mental break down. I was then intending to turn around and drive back to Tucson to pick her up. She was the only patient I had, and there was no way I would have been able to find another one in 12 hours.

A few minutes later she called again and left another message saying "don't worry Jill, I know I told you my car overheated, but I'm on my way to the bus station now. I will be there. I promise. Don't stress. I'm doing absolutely everything I can to make sure that I'm there for you in the morning. Don't worry, I'll be there"

At that moment, I almost started crying. This sweet girl got herself to the greyhound station in Tucson (which is scary enough as it is), bought a round trip bus ticket, got on a Greyhound and rode all the way to Phoenix, had her aunt pick her up from the greyhound station all just so she could be there for me the next morning.

I had only talked to this girl like twice before this. We didn't know each other hardly at all, but simply because she is a good person she did all of that for me...to come sit in a chair for 3 hours, have 4-5 people poking around in her mouth, get her teeth cleaned, on Mother's Day.

Did I mention she is a single mom of a 2 year old girl?

I was so touched.

Sunday morning came, she was there, on time and all. Just as she promised. The exam went well. I was slightly nervous because I had never seen the inside of her mouth before (a classmate of mine referred her to me as a board patient), and I was doing a section in the mouth that can be hit or miss board quality. But she was golden.

She was incredibly patient and cooperative. Didn't complain at all, about anything. The only thing she asked of me at the end was if I could give her a ride back to her Aunt's house in Chandler. I told her I would take her anywhere she wanted.

Overall, I felt pretty good when I walked out of the clinic that day. I felt like I had definitely done my best and was pretty confident that I would pass. Much like the written exam, I was mostly just relieved to have it over with.

A few days later, I got an email with my results...

I passed!

I needed a 75% to pass this exam as well. All in all, I was very glad that I scheduled my board exams at the beginning of the month and didn't wait until the end like 75% of the girls in my class. By May 12th I had received my results from both exams, and could rest easy and let go of everything while most of my classmates were still cramming.

What a great feeling it was to know that all the sweat and tears I put into hygiene school had finally paid off! It definitely made graduation so much sweeter knowing that I was 100% on my way to my long-awaited career.

Friday, June 25, 2010

National Boards

The last time I updated this blog of mine, I was amidst the daunting task of studying for my National Board exam. Just to give you an idea of what this exam is about, it is like the NCLEX for nursing, the bar exam for lawyers, etc. It is given by the American Dental Association, is 350 multiple choice questions (200 normal MC questions, and 150 case study questions), and includes material from our entire 2 years (or 4 in a University setting) of school plus anything else the ADA thinks we should know relating to hygiene...

I was studying for a good 3-4 weeks straight before the exam. I wish I'd taken a picture of our kitchen table that was basically non-functional as a kitchen table thanks to all of my notes, books, notecards, etc. spread all over it. I went to a few review sessions on different topics that I felt I needed some serious review of (Pharmacology...the only class I got a C in during all of hygiene school, Dental Materials, etc.). By the week before the exam, I was just about studied out. I hated feeling that way, but I was at the point where I knew what I knew, which was a lot, and studying anymore probably wasn't going to do me much good.

The whole week before the exam, I went over my notecards, etc. from the more difficult topics I had reviewed, and just tried to relax. At that point I had learned all the material I was going to, and deep down inside my brain I did have most of the information stored from the previous 2 years of school. I wasn't going to learn anything new in the 2 or 3 days before the exam.

The day before I went to class, where we had a combined baby shower for one of our instructors and one of our clinic front desk girls who were both due to have a baby this summer. I tried to just relax and not think about the exam too much. Many of my classmates asked if I felt ready and if I was nervous for the next day. I replied that I was nervous of course, but I felt as ready as I was ever going to be.

(There were only 5 girls in my class, including myself that took the NBDHE that day. Most of the other girls in my class scheduled theirs for the end of May because they started freaking out around mid-april that they wouldn't be ready by May 6th)

The exam started at 8:30 am on Thursday May 6th. It was all given on the computer, which did make it a little easier I think than if it would have been on paper like it has been for years. We had until 5 pm to finish the exam. We had 3.5 hours for the first 200 questions, then an optional hour lunch break, and then 3.5 hours for the last 150 questions.

The beauty of the computer method also is that you aren't required to take any breaks if you don't want to. Most people would want to take a break anyway just to keep their sanity but it isn't required. I suppose I am one of the crazy ones because I didn't take any breaks. I sat down at 8:30 am and went straight through all 350 questions. I walked out at 1 pm and was completely done. It was rough, but I'm glad I did it that way. When I finished the first 200 questions, I was feeling good and was anxious to keep going. I didn't feel like I needed a break. Generally I am a fast test taker anyway (I was usually the 2nd or 3rd one done in my class everytime). Plus, at 1 when I was done, I was able to go home and spend the rest of the day with my husband (who happened to have that day off) relaxing and celebrating being done with that awful exam.

I felt like I did the very best I could. I surprisingly felt much better about the 150 case studies (which everyone always says are much more difficult). There were quite a few questions that I didn't know, but most of them I could narrow the answers down to 2 and then just take a good guess from there. There were only about 5 or 6 that I completely had absolutely no idea and had never seen the material before.

The exam is graded on a National curve, and we have to get a 75% to pass. Generally this works out to mean we can get a 65% before the curve to pass. They also say (whoever "they" is) that 90% of people who take the exam pass it the first time. I just kept telling myself that and prayed that I passed.

A couple weeks later I received my results in the mail.


It was such a HUGE weight off my shoulders when I got this in the mail and knew that I was done and never would have to endure that exam ever again. All my hard work paid off and it was such a great feeling!

Where to Begin?

Wow. This has been a very much needed update that I have just not had time to sit down and do for the past month... or 2. SO much has happened in the last 2 months and there is so much to post about!

I'm going to have to write individual posts for each event because they are just way too long to put all together. So, in the next few days watch for posts about...

1. National Boards
2. Clinical Boards
3. Hygiene Graduation
4. Pinning Ceremony
5. New House
6. Moving
7. New House Trials/Adventures
8. Job Interviews/New Jobs

Plus anything else that might happen between now and when I get to the end of that list. Things seem to happen around here just about everyday, so it's very possible that list might grow in the next couple of days!