As a dental student or someone interested in becoming a hygienist, you may be wondering what a dental internship is like. Here’s an overview of my experience as a paid dental intern. My time in the dental clinic is invaluable and has given me a new perspective on dentistry. Here are the biggest things I learned.
In my courses at Indiana University Fort Wayne School of Dental Hygiene, I learn a lot, but there’s nothing that compares to being out in the real world. Getting to observe Dr. Hale, the assistants, the hygienists, and even the office staff helps me use critical thinking and application of all the skills I have learned thus far in a real-life patient situation. Working at Hale Family Dentistry has given me a chance to excel in my studies and will set the stage for future success. It’s been a great opportunity to get hands-on experience.
Learning Different Roles
Working in a dentist office has helped me see that not everything goes according to plan. This has helped me embrace variability and learn from more experienced dentists. I’m gaining knowledge and experience that I wouldn’t get in school. I’m able to learn more than strictly hygienist duties such as sterilization, down-time duties, scheduling, marketing, and more. I’ve been taught a lot about insurance and financial aspects, which are a vital part of dentistry and patients’ satisfaction with their dental visit. I have also learned more about the dentists’ role and the different types of exams he can conduct.
Shadowing Dental Hygienists
Listening to how our incredible hygienists interact with and create relationships with our patients has helped me see how to value our patients and treat them so that they feel comfortable. It will help me with creating a safe and secure environment for my patients at the clinic during the school year.
A huge part of dentistry is creating rapport with patients and creating a space where they’re confident in sharing their questions and concerns without fear of judgment, and Hale Dentistry has shown me a perfect example of how to do so.
Dental Insurance Woes
Since it is something we haven’t spent much on in school, insurance as a whole is something that is challenging to understand for me. The girls in the office are so knowledgeable and patient with me as I continue to ask questions and try to become more educated on the basics of insurance.
The different types and policies that each insurance contains are a lot to try and remember and can be discouraging when attempting to keep everything straight. However, Mollie and Marita are always willing to walk through things with me step by step and remind me that learning new things takes time and to not let it discourage me.
Adapting & Learning in Dentistry
The skill of being able to adapt to new environments is something that is essential to being successful in your career. Not each place you work is going to run and operate the exact same way. Adapting to your surroundings so you and the work environment can work efficiently as possible helps everyone work as a team and work to the best of their abilities.
Also being willing and eager to learn or observe new things is an important attribute to have as well. I often watch procedures that the dentist and assistants do, even though I am in school to become a hygienist because it is interesting and valuable to me to see the reasoning and thought process behind the procedure.
Having a passion for learning new things and information is a valuable trait that I will carry throughout life because the ability to grow and become more knowledgeable is always available.