This past week has been an exciting one for my as an educator. Last Friday, the school where I work graduated some of the best and brightest students, ready to take on the world one dirty tooth at a time. This week, those students finished up their local anesthesia and clinical dental hygiene boards. I was reminded of when I took those boards and still feel some residual anxiety about them and it's been 5 years! I remember being so nervous and stressed out. All of my available brain space was focusing on that exam so it's not surprising that I locked my keys in the car that day, right?! Anyway, I was reflecting on how much study, preparation, work, and money went into the letters at the end of my name, letters many don't know about. That is what I was to discuss today: educating our patients and the general public about what it mean to be a RDH, BSDH! If we remember back in 2012, a national television program called The View proclaimed to the world that is was not necessary to get a college degree to become a Dental Hygienist! Let alone the reputation we have as ditsy women thanks to other television shows. I have had many discussions with my patients about my education. More people than I'd like to admit are surprised when I tell them that I have a bachelor's degree and am licensed by the state to do my job. Imagine their surprise when I tell them I had to take 3 written exam and 2 practical exams in order to be licensed! I have 3 suggestions that I would ask you to consider in order to bring the respect that our profession deserves.

1. Hang your license AND diploma (whether it is an associate or a bachelor's degree) IN your operatory where your patients can see it. This provides you with a conversation piece and an opportunity to educate your patient on the quality of care they are receiving from a qualified individual- YOU!

2. Wear a lab coat or name tag with your name AND credentials on it. You may think it's pretentious. It is NOT. It is PROFESSIONAL.

3. Be a member of your professional organization! Without an organization, we do not have a voice. We need a voice to protect and preserve the professionalism and prestige of our profession.

How do you present yourself in a way that helps others recognize your qualifications? I'd love to know. Let's join forces and not let the stress of boards go unwarranted. Let us be a united voice in letting our patients know that educated professionals are taking care of them. We are much more than the "person that cleans my teeth."