A College Homecoming
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the hallowed halls of my alma mater—The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Dentistry in Columbus—where my dental hygiene career began.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the hallowed halls of my alma mater—The Ohio State University (OSU) College of Dentistry in Columbus—where my dental hygiene career began. During the trip, I participated in a video tribute to celebrate OSU Dental School’s 125th anniversary. Being part of this commemoration gave me a chance to truly reflect on my time at the school. The interviewer asked what the dental hygiene program was like when I was a student and how it is different today. I could have talked for hours on the subject; so much has changed!
When I was in school, the dental hygiene clinic was on a separate floor from the dental clinic. Now the clinics are integrated and dental hygiene and dental students work together to treat patients. There was very little interaction between dental hygiene, dental, and medical students while I was attending OSU. We dental hygiene students kept to ourselves, wore white starched uniforms and caps, and didn’t imagine a role other than clinical practice or teaching. We did our thing, the dental students did their thing, and somehow we thought it all worked just fine. That said, I remember thinking, “I wonder why there is so much separation between us and the dental students?” Other big differences between the past and the present include the lack of high-tech diagnostics and treatment modalities, limited science (no one had heard of evidence-based care), and a firm belief that we had all the answers. While what we learned was state-of-the-art at the time, it all seems so incomplete now.
It’s difficult to describe the flood of thoughts and emotions I experienced during my visit. I felt so proud to be a graduate of this outstanding dental hygiene program. Mostly, I thought about how after graduation we forged our own paths and improved the profession.
To the new dental hygiene graduates who are about to begin careers in the profession, I wish each of you could experience the future now. Know that the sky is the limit, as long as you reach for the opportunities in front of you. You can be clinicians, educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, corporate employees, and more. Most of all, I hope that someday when you return to your dental hygiene home, you feel proud of the accomplishments you and your colleagues have made. When you do go home again, it will look very different. Honor the past, but celebrate the future.
Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. April 2015;13(4):10.