In Defense of the Dental Hygiene Program at Concorde

sweet-toothI am a proud instructor at an accelerated dental hygiene program in San Antonio, Texas. I have worked here for almost two years, and have nothing but good things to say about our program director, faculty, clinic manager, and students. We work very hard to ensure the success of our students and it hurts when I hear accusations that suggest the contrary.

 I have to admit that when Concorde opened a dental hygiene program, I initially didn’t like the idea. I had preconceived notions that an accelerated program could not produce quality hygienists. I heard gossip from other hygienists in our city. The program did not receive a warm welcome from the hygiene community.

 However, my dream was to be a teacher. I had a Bachelor of Science degree, which was not enough to work at the university, but it was acceptable for teaching in an Associate degree program. With only two options in my city, I decided to take a look at Concorde. I was impressed.

 After applying for a position as an instructor, I was hired on part-time. Initially I worked as a clinic instructor and assisted the clinic teacher in instrumentation labs. What I saw was the exact opposite of my initial perceptions of the program.

 The clinic at Concorde is beautiful. It is very modern and well-appointed. We have digital sensors and a digital panoramic machine; we are in the process of installing laptops in all 12 operatories so the students can record their notes in Dentrix more easily. Our clinic manager has high standards for infection control and is exceptional at ensuring that we maintain thorough records of timely spore testing and that our equipment is working properly.

 The curriculum is of the same quality as the program I graduated from in 2003. The students are engaged in the learning process, they’re smart and they work hard. The instructors create significant learning environments, ensuring that all learning styles are included in the instruction.

 In my classes, I am constantly thinking of new ways to engage the students. In Oral Histology, we have a lab where the students use microscopes to study different tissues. We use creative materials; last week I had the students sculpt the muscles of mastication out of clay and they attached them to the appropriate origins and insertions on a plastic skull. The students complete table clinics, write papers, collaborate on group projects, practice their skills in clinic, and provide service to the community. The fact is our students succeed. We have very good pass rates on both the National Board and CRDTS. It may be an accelerated program, but it’s very student-centered and we have a great team of educators, so it works.

 IMG_1838Most of our instructors have Master’s degrees or are in the process of obtaining them. I am working on my M.Ed. in Digital Leading and Learning; I plan on introducing more technology into the classroom to facilitate engagement and deeper learning. Concorde offers tuition reimbursement to encourage instructors to earn higher degrees. Actually, Concorde provides a lot of great benefits to its employees and I feel lucky to be a part of an organization where I truly feel valued.

So, to all the hygienists who have negative feelings about Concorde, I invite you to actually take a look at what we provide to our students. Recently, an article was published about another Concorde campus in California. The article contained multiple inaccuracies and sought to perpetuate the negative feelings that some hygienists have about accelerated programs. Don’t jump on the bandwagon without any personal experience. Most likely, if you have the same preconceived notions that I had, it’s because you haven’t seen our school or met the awesome students we serve.