My name is Stephanie, I am finishing my bachelors degree in hopes of becoming an educator at the community college in the hygiene clinic. I am debating on whether to continue for my masters degree and if so what I should get the degree in. I have found that it is hard to get a full-time position with just a bachelors. As an educator in the clinic what tasks do you complete on a daily basis? Do you have the opportunity to teach your own class, if so what degree do you have?
I received my bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene education when I was on the path to teach part-time and full-time. But, a master’s degree is usually the minimum requirement these days to secure a full-time position as a dental hygiene educator. Most schools seeking “clinical instructors” only, may accept a bachelor of science and it is best if this degree is focused in the track of education.
When I went on for my master’s degree, I chose NOT to pursue this in a dental hygiene degree program. I felt that this would only focus my studies and mentoring as an educator for dental hygiene ONLY. My dental hygiene school director gave me advice and I still believe it was the best advice I ever received while pursuing my higher degree. She said that it may be best to study in a master’s degree program “outside of the dental world” so that it broadens your opportunities in various areas of interest.
So, I applied and attended night classes to attain a master’s degree in education from Penn State University—annex campus. This program was designed to offer a Master of Education. but in “Instructional Design and Training.” This allowed me to take classes and courses that were in adult education and my classmates were mostly from “corporate training positions” in companies in my area. I learned more about designing effective training, which was more useful to me when I made the jump into a corporate position after teaching in dental hygiene programs. I now use these skills in training sales hires and developing all sorts of design to train. If I had gone to a dental hygiene specific program, it would have narrowed my knowledge and skills.
My advice is ALWAYS to advance your degree because it opens doors. Our accreditation process requires that faculty teaching in a program must have one degree higher than students in the program. So technically with a bachelor’s degree, you could work in a program that awards an associate degree in dental hygiene. One of the reasons we encourage students to do a degree-completion program for their bachelor’s or get the graduate dental hygiene degree is because all of the questions about what an educator would do in clinic is covered in the dental hygiene baccalaureate and graduate programs.