Mark Hartley, Editor
The most relevant day for earning a college degree is the first day of classes. It?s the beginning of a commitment to understand how various scholars view your world. Stick around for subsequent classes, until the end, and the degree becomes relevant to others, namely employers.
The trouble with dental hygiene is this strong undercurrent called two-year associate programs. The trend in the profession is to begin practicing quickly ? get the license and balance out your education later. An undercurrent is really not that difficult to withstand. What causes the commitment to falter, lose footing, and flounder around in surprise is the expectation of a four-year degree. But it?s the right thing for health-care professionals to do ? present a complete, well-educated image to patients. As the profession cranks up the tempo for autonomy, the credentials have to be there. Your neighbors, patients, etc. have to perceive you as a capable, qualified decision-maker. Although the first day of classes conveys the most important decision, the bachelor?s degree itself is the evidence.
The reason why a sign about the undercurrent is posted on the beach is this: The math behind a two-year dental hygiene degree and a subsequent bachelor?s stinks. It?s flawed, unjust, and a detriment to the pursuit of professionalism. Too many hygienists find their pursuit of a four-year degree turning into a quest lasting five, six or more years. All the hard work that you put forth in obtaining a two-year degree is blatantly disregarded. It?s so demoralizing that the most cruel, obnoxious professor in the law school smells like a saint. Hygiene baccalaureate programs might as well proclaim: OYour best bet is to join the hordes of ambulance chasers. If you really want to be a hygienist, we?re going to make you pay big-time for your folly.O
My response is, OHeck, everyone likes their dental hygienist, don?t they? Why are we picking on them? Is someone unable to outgrow the thrills of being a schoolyard bully?O
So Heidi Emmerling?s article on page 16 lets the sunshine beam down on good guys ? colleges that acknowledge where you?ve been and nudge you along to where you want to go. School is hard work, as always, but you can pursue a degree without feeling penalized every which way you turn. The first day of class is exciting, not something to dread.
More than likely, Emmerling touches just the tip of the iceberg with the programs she writes about in this issue. Please let us know if you?ve found satisfactory solutions to obtaining a bachelor?s degree, particularly if you began your career with an associate?s degree.