Occurrences like relocation and spousal job opportunities can disrupt life plans. For dental hygienists, this can mean they have to leave the field for several years, but when they decide to come back, getting their license reinstated and passing exams can stop them. To combat this problem, Augusta University offers the Dental Hygiene Re-Entry Program. The program was created in 2002 after it was discovered there was a need for hygienists who previously worked and then stopped for various reasons.
“I started the program at the request of the Georgia Board of Dentistry,” said Cynthia Hughes, associate professor of the College of Allied Health Sciences. “They wanted us to come up with a program for people who have been out of the field and wanted to renew their license and start back working as dental hygienists. So, we put this course together, and it has grown exponentially since then.”
The intense program is 40 credit hours that are administered over a five-day week. Participants are presented updated information on equipment, technique and medicines that may not have been in use before they left the field. They are updated on infection control and taught to digitally take radiographs.
“We have them practice on mannequins the first two days,” said Ana Thompson, chair of the department of undergraduate health professions, said. “After that, they start working on patients we have scheduled for them. We teach them how to hold instruments and how the units work. It is very hands on, but highly supervised.”
Although this program is the only dental hygiene re-entry program administered in Georgia, it is not just targeted at Georgia residents. Hughes said they have had participants from Kentucky, the Carolinas, Florida, Texas and even Canada.
“Someone can come to AU and take the course and then go to another state and take their exam,” Thompson said.
To participate in the program, students are required to have previously had a dental hygienist license. Successful completion of the re-entry program does not immediately re-license the participant. Students must also take clinical and/or written boards as designated by their state’s licensing board.
The next course will be offered Dec. 10–14, 2018. Participants must be registered at least two weeks before the course starts.
For the complete schedule and information on registration and requirements, visit the Dental Hygiene Re-Entry website.