Congratulations to Liezl for winning this year's Student Article Contest! See her article below about effective study habits while in dental hygiene school.
Hygiene school may be the best years of your life because you can finally see the light on the other side of the tunnel. You know that if you are successful in this program, there is an end result, becoming a Registered Dental Hygienist. I can also say it may be the worst years of your life because it tests every ounce of your sanity, and studying to the point where you can't absorb anymore information. For me, it has been that but is has also been the best two years of my life because we all grew into one big family. This was our biggest support system because we were all in the same shoes and knew what we had to do. That being said, I have just began my journey of becoming a Registered Dental Hygienist. For the chapter I have recently closed, Hygiene School, there were many things I had to change in order to become what I, as well as my hygiene family, have successfully accomplished and I hop these tips will help you on your journey as well!
ORGANIZATION, NO PROCRASTINATION!
Professors will usually give you the syllabus of each of your classes before they start. Make sure you read this and know the important dates of tests, clinical, volunteering, ect. Keep an organizer you can write in and refer to when you need to. For the one that likes to be digital, I always added them to my calendar on my phone, along with other important personal dates/appointments outside of school so I knew if I had to study earlier due to an event, or I knew what I needed to read for a specific class. iCALENDAR for iPhone or iMac is a good way to organize these dates, and they can be color coded so you are able to see what is school/personal/work related.
STUDY SMARTER, NOT HARDER!
In the beginning, I used to read word for word the chapters we were assigned before doing anything else, but I would get frustrated and I really didn't have the time to do this for every subject. I had to find an easier way to study. I looked at the questions at the end of the chapter and then briefly read through the chapter to see if I was able to answer them. There are also objectives in the professor's syllabus of what they expect you to know during their lectures. I take this and use it as a guideline to make sure I know these objectives. When lecture time came, most of the time the information they presented answered the questions I couldn't find. If it didn't, or I wanted to learn more about a subject, I asked during that time.
BOOKS ARE YOUR FRIEND!
Make sure to look at all of your books and they almost ALWAYS have a link to register your book for supplemental materials. I highly advice you do this to be able to get more study material and to be ready for tests! It is very useful and helpful. I used this many times and did the tests (as well as the questions in the physical book) with my friends and study group so we were able to explain to each other our process of thinking for the correct answer, which helped when it came to test day! Some books don't have answers to the questions at the end of the book to cross reference if you are correct. SOMETIMES, if you register for the supplemental material online (should be free) they have the answers there. This may be helpful for you too!
Also, if you don't want to carry heavy books around and are computer savvy, you can always buy the digital copy of a book (doesn't go well if you plan to sell your books though). PageBurst is an app from the company Elsevier for many hygiene books we use during hygiene school, and I was able to copy the photos to use in my Quizlets/Microsoft One Notes to refer to- very helpful also!
This was always a good way to study for other because studies show that you retain more information if you write it out. To each his own! But for me, I disliked flashcards. I hate lugging them around, losing cards, and having piles of them in a box or desk to refer to later. A friend introduced me to a simpler way of writing information out with using a piece of paper, which I then did so that I kept a notebook with me to keep them all in the same place. I had a notebook for each subject.
Keeping the paper inside the notebook, you crease the paper in half, then with the right side of this paper, you would half it once more. One side would be a question and the other side would be the answer. When I studied, I would read the question on the left side with the right covered, then I would open that side to see if my answer was correct!
For the one that likes to be digital, I set up a table on a Microsoft One note and had on the left side a term or objective I needed to know, with the right side being the answer and/or a picture that can help me visualize the concept if it was needed.
To go even further, I also used a program called QUIZLET. This was a digital flashcard app I used for learning concepts and using it on the go. You can use this on your computer while you are studying, and then download the app on your phone. In this way, you are able to bring your information anywhere with you and test yourself when you aren't by your computer/physical flashcards. You can organize your "flashcards" by subject or concept. In this app there are others that share their digital flashcards, and sometimes they are questions in the books that we used for that class. Again, very helpful!
*If you pay their yearly fee, an added BONUS is that you are able to include pictures to the answer side.
MICROSOFT ONE NOTE
For anyone that likes to be organized, and does not like lugging around notebooks, THIS IS THE BEST APP TO ORGANIZE YOUR NOTES! Bonus: You are able to download this app on your phone (beware: eats up memory, refer to Quizlet) and you can refer to your notes on this if you need it! This is an app that holds notebook you can customize for basically your LIFE. I made a "hygiene" notebook that contained all of my notes. In this notebook, you have "tabs" in which I used these tabs for every subject I was studying. In each tab, I had every chapter/concept that I was assigned to learn, homework I had to complete for reference if I needed it, and the lecture notes I took during class. It kept everything in one place, other than individual files on my computer. It was the best thing I have discovered. You won't be disappointed! Did I say that this is FREE?
Any concept or subject I had difficulty on (especially clinically), I always went to see if there were educational FREE videos that can break it down for me further, whether it was memorizing the B vitamins, to learning what area I had to be in for administering anesthesia. This is the best reference tool you can have when you are a visual learner.
This app is an online storage website where it saves all your files you upload. I Loved this app because, again, you are able to acccess it with your comptuer. Our class made an account (FREE!) and created different folders for each semester, and each class. There we would save anything we had to download from each class and wanted to share (syllabuses, PowerPoints, ect.) That way, if I needed it when I haven't have my computer or I wanted to access a PowerPoint from my phone, I had it right in the app to see it. If I needed my group to see a file when doing group projects, we would upload them to this website and it was easily accessible. Since we did a lot of teaching in different subjects to each other, we would upload our PowerPoints here so we all had access to them. It was a very useful tool!
This is probably a big reason why I was able to pass the program. I had a couple of friends I always went to, to study anything and everything! We met in study rooms at school, outside of school, etc. to study for tests or explain our way of a concept if we didn't understand it. WRITE IT OUT! It was easier to see the big concept with little information on each one. It took a long time, but it was worth it! It was very helpful in getting another's point of view to understand the concept fully. I highly recommend finding two other people to study with. More than that it's just a party and it will not help you.
One last thing I will say- YOU WILL PASS! There will be a time (or many times) where you will question if you want to keep going of why you are in this program. Just keep telling yourself, YOU WILL PASS! Take the time to stop, breathe, and enjoy everything around you. It goes by quick! Hope these tips helped. Good Luck!