Boy, did Trisha O`Hehir hit the nail on the head with comments on the two-year degree sham (January 1997)! I cannot use the 60-plus credits that I have earned at the technical college, where I achieved my associate`s degree, toward anything at any college or university. I can look at this dilemma a couple of ways.
The first is that I wasted two years at the technical college with what was represented to me as college level credits. They were so bold as to question my classes at the university: "...this class may not transfer into our program. You may have to take that class over." I could whine and moan and stomp my feet at the injustice. Sometimes I do.
The other way to look at it is that I wasted two years at the university. I have over 60 credits there that haven`t made me a penny! I spent a summer in an Econ class that put me to sleep, a religion class taught by Less Nessman of WKRP, and way more chem and biology classes than I would ever need. Plus, one semester there cost me about the same as an entire year at the technical college.
In reality, I know that the education I managed to achieve, even with five small children, cannot be taken away from me. All of it serves me well, but the fact that I have the equivalent of a bachelor of science degree and cannot use it to do some of the more interesting things that a BS degree can irks me, and this is what I find needs changing. A person with a four-year degree should make more than a person with a two-year (really three) degree. But it isn`t so. A teacher should make more than a basketball player, but it isn`t so either.
Ms. O`Hehir is correct when she says that the associate`s degree education is misrepresented as:
- A two-year degree.
- Many courses are transferable to a bachelor`s degree.
- In order to get a bachelor`s degree an associate degree holder must have a total of four years of college (it really is seven).
This dovetails nicely with the Perspective article written by Heidi Emmerling on the ADA`s resolutions (January 1997). Any way you look at it, hygienists are over educated for what we are expected to do for your patients. Why is it we hold fast to coronal polishing when we should be fighting to do buccal pit composites? Why are we up in arms over preceptorship when we should be looking ahead to do more?
By focusing on the mundane aspects of our job, we are missing the boat on moving ourselves forward. Like nursing, we should be able to specialize. A dental health practitioner sounds pretty good to me. Nurse practitioners are overseen by MDs as are physicians assistants. When I see the PA, she doesn`t call the MD in to validate her findings. Why can`t we fight for that?
Why should the ADA propose expanded opportunities for licensed educated hygienists? It looks to them as if we are happy polishing and giving away perio therapy. Maybe it`s just in the city that I live in, but I don`t know anyone that can knowingly leave a piece of calc on the distal of #19 five millimeters into the pocket. It is very hard for most of us to tell the patient that they have gum disease and will need to return for perio therapy and the fee will be X amount. It is easier for most of us to scrape it off, apologize for the discomfort, and make a note in the chart to check the area next time. No wonder we need a full 60 minutes to do a prophy.
I am just as guilty as the next person, but sometimes I feel as if I am screaming into the wind. These things are the crux of our problems with identity and professionalism. We cannot be taken seriously if we don`t take things like this seriously.
Shirley Gutkowski, RDH
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin