Every senior in the dental hygiene program at Utah Tech University passed their rigorous examination process this semester, adding to an already high success rate for the major.
To become certified as a dental hygienist, the seniors of the dental hygiene major had to endure six different exams of both written and practical variety. This includes both the national and state board exams with the former including 350 questions with nine hours to complete the entire exam.
Not a single senior was left behind this semester because of the serious training the students have been experiencing since the beginning of their junior year.
BaiLee Flake, a senior dental hygiene major from Snowflake, Arizona, was one of the 24 students who passed the six exams.
Flake said some of the seniors had to take some of the practical exams multiple times before they passed.
“So one of them that I failed was the local anesthesia one,” said Flake. “That was the one where I had to do two injections on a patient and on one of my injections, my needle got a little bent, and that’s an automatic fail. Luckily, I got to retake it about 30 minutes later after I composed myself.”
Flake said the seniors had to pay for the exam out of their own pocket, which led to an average of $3000 invested into taking all six of the exams per senior. If they failed an exam, they had to pay the fee again to retake it.
Laura Peterson, a senior dental hygiene major from Roy, said how the professors of Utah Tech were preparing the seniors for exams.
Peterson said: “What’s kind of crazy is that they start prepping us for the exam starting our junior year, whether we realize it or not. In our second semester we take 21 credits, and we go into our senior year and our load lightens up, but that’s when we start to prep for the boards. However, when we prep for the boards, we go over all the information that we were taught through whatever we choose to pay for.”
Brenda Armstrong, associate professor of dental hygiene and department chair, said how proud she was of the seniors as well as their unwavering dedication.
Armstrong said: “They’ve worked hard. Our program starts with 19 credits on their first semester and over 20 on their second semester. During all this time, they’re not only learning content, but they’re learning skills like being able to work in an operatory with instruments and patients. So, there’s a lot of acquisition of knowledge and then application in both knowing what you’re doing and then physically knowing how to manipulate dental instruments.”
On May 5, all 24 of the senior dental hygiene majors will walk at graduation. After that, it’s up to them where they will go from there. Some options include practicing in a private office with a dentist or going out of the state of Utah to start their own practice.