Celebrating Dental Hygiene Month with the Education and Career of Lynn Hart, Carrington College Student and Faculty Member, Mesa Campus
The Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene programs are being highlighted this October in honor of Dental Hygiene Month. Lynn Hart has been both a student and faculty member at Carrington College in the Dental Hygiene program. She began her relationship with Carrington College in 2013 when she was 38 years old. After a 21-year career as a Dental Assistant, she entered the Dental Hygiene program as a student in 2013. Even given all the experience she had in the field as a Dental Assistant, she said, “[I] felt I had to leave that behind to learn this from a fresh start, to humble myself and apply myself.” She was impressed how every instructor taught her in so many different ways, hitting all the points to give her such a thorough comprehension of the work. Lynn graduated in 2015. Five years later, she was invited back as an instructor in the same program and teaches with the same commitment and passion to the students she herself felt years before.
How did you get interested in the field of Dentistry?
I can’t explain it, but when I was 8 years old, I already had a fascination with the mouth – I just knew it was the direction I wanted to go. I also loved teaching; I would line up my dolls with an antenna as a pointer and teach them things. I never knew it would happen that my career would lead to doing both things.
What was it like coming to Carrington College as a student?
It was very intense. I thought it was tougher than my bachelor’s degree. Even with 21 years of dental assisting! I definitely shed a lot of tears through school. I had to apply myself in a different way. I get goosebumps now thinking about how, without the instruction they gave me – the way they taught me – I would not be the hygienist I am today.
How did it happen that you came back as a faculty member?
It was five years between graduating and returning as a faculty member. I worked as a Dental Hygienist during that time and volunteered every year at the Arizona Mission of Mercy. We service the homeless and patients who don’t have insurance; we treat about 1500 – 2000 patients in a weekend. That is where I met one of Carrington College’s instructors, Amy Sweeney. She recommended that I apply for the job as a Carrington College teacher. I admit it was kind of a weird thing, intimidating to be honest, to be almost on the same level and to call them by their first name. I still call Brenda Chavez, the Program Director, “Ms. Chavez” out of respect.
What is your favorite thing about teaching?
I like getting to know who the students are. In the beginning they don’t know us, we don’t know them. I like figuring out what makes them tick while working with their strengths and weaknesses. In instances when a challenge presents itself, it’s comforting to know that I have full support from other instructors in finding a different approach to help each student succeed. That moment when it clicks, when they have the ability to acknowledge their weakness and use their strength, is my biggest takeaway when I teach. When they graduate they are so thankful; it gives them the confidence they need to start their journey as a dental hygienist.
From your experience, what would you say are the most important qualities to have to succeed as a Dental Hygienist?
1. Organization and prioritizing your life and your work
2. Being prompt – always being on time – practicing getting there early
3. Integrity – be impeccable with your word
4. Always practice patient-centered care
5. Teamwork mentality – everyone needs to help each other make the day run as smoothly and successfully as possible
Any advice for your graduating students?
First, don’t just take any job: be careful of the company you are working for. That approach can get you into trouble – you may find yourself burned out in two or three years in a job without decent benefits as well. Second, make the patient the most important part of the visit. You will find the better dentistry practices do that.
And lastly, what was the single thing, if there was one thing, that made you want to return to Carrington College to teach?
Their program is structured to make sure you’re successful, and that you are well prepared to take your written and clinical board exams. Disclosure: *Carrington College prepares students to take appropriate certification and licensure exams related to their individual majors. The College does not guarantee students will successfully pass these exams or be certified or licensed as a result of completing the program. They are passionate about dentistry and go above and beyond to support each student. I couldn’t have picked a better school.