Smile 20: Erika P.

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Name: Erika P.
State or Country: New York
School: NYU College of Dentistry
Occupation: Dental Hygienist

What is your educational background?
AAS Meteorology, BS Dental Hygiene Valedictorian

Why did you choose this career?
After 8 years in the military, I wanted to pursue other interests.

What do you like the most about your career, and the least?
I love the flexibility in this career. You can work just about anywhere in the country with this job and there’s several branches of the career to choose from or in conjunction. My least favorite aspect of this career mostly pertains to my resident state; I don’t like that we are the only licensed medical provider required to work under the supervision of another licensed medical provider. I would like the freedom to provide needed services to the community without needing supervision; much like my colleagues in other states.

What advice do you wish someone would have shared with you before entering your career?
Your first couple years may not go so great and it may take a while to find a good place that fits YOU. But know: You are a valuable aspect to the practice. Know your worth, be realistic, understand it, and accept nothing less.

Do you have any tips or advice for people considering this field for their profession?
It’s a selfless and underappreciated job, but yet very rewarding. Make sure there’s a healthy work/life balance.

How did you manage your stress and workload during school?
School & family life balance was really important. I found myself always studying and not taking the necessary time off to rest my mind. Also, creating study groups and shared notes is a huge help!

Name one of your favorite experiences during your time studying or working?
I don’t have one favorite experience, but a lot of my favorite experiences are from hygiene school. Most of which were during the pediatric rotation and community outreaches.

Any tips or advice for new students working on the clinic floor?
There’s plenty of time to complete your requirements, stay organized & consistent with improvements, and speak up if you don’t understand something. Your professors are there to help you!

Name one of your favorite clinical rotations and why?
Pedo rotation was my favorite because we engaged with young children in a positive yet unorthodox setting, while also providing needed dental services to underserved communities.

What are some helpful materials/resources you used to study and prepare for your board or license exams?
Notes from school and board review class. NBDHE online practice tests helped me understand exam expectations and areas of weaknesses. Exercising several senses during studying: Read the material, Say and record your notes, listen to your recorded notes or lectures, and if you have the time…write it out material that you struggle with. Also, I created mnemonics for material I needed to memorize and watched you tube videos to help with anatomy.

Discuss one challenge you faced during your studies or work. How did you overcome it?
I was often overwhelmed with the amount of educational material and expectations of clinical care in a small amount of time. I learned to understand that consistency, patience, and thrive for improvement helped me overcome my struggles. Music also helped me endure long study sessions.

What do you use for your everyday oral hygiene routine?

Toothbrush:Burst Sonic Toothbrush the past year, prior Sonicare user for many years.

Toothpaste: Sensodyne gentle white

Floss: Cocofloss!!!

Mouth Rinse: Listerine total Care Zero

Others: Gum stimulator & tongue scraper

What makes you smile and why?

Knowing I help treat & prevent disease and improve people’s well-being.

Anything else you’d like to share?

You have the power of your career, don’t forget that!

Photos in this post are credited to Erika P.

Thank you, Erika P. , for contributing to smilesofpeople.com!

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