Monday, May 21, 2007

Knockabout pt.2


The few weeks prior to the exam led to a flurry of activity, seeking patients high and low, hoping for someone who fit the bill. Phones rang. Flyers were made, posted, and passed around. Stores and malls were staked out. The local community clinics were approached. Internet forums were solicited. Heck, even an ad on Craigslist. Suitable patients were not to be found.

Did I say "patients?" Yep. It turns out that I was not the only one seeking a patient. Classmate 1 was not confident with her patient when he showed up for a check the week before the exam. She was afraid there was insufficient calculus and wanted to find a back-up.

Classmate 2 was in a similar situation, also seeking a back-up patient.

Classmate 3 was without a patient altogether, though she tried to get one of the patients who went to an earlier exam. She was not successful in enticing him to be a WREB patient a second time.

Classmate 4 was one who took an earlier exam and was helping out in locating patients for the rest of us. What a saint.

Classmates 3 & 4 worked together, 2 worked with me, and 1 just worked. (She got a job as an assisstant until her license comes in.) We covered about a 100 mile spread physically and much further with the aid of the internet. Alas, not much came about. Lots of hits for folks willing to volunteer, but none who qualified.

Two days before the exam, Classmate 2 and I met a lady about 70 miles from home. She had arranged for us to meet with several friends and co-workers of her husband. That night, at about 9:30 pm, I found a woman who seemed to fit the criteria. I would not know for certain until I got her in the clinic and got x-rays, but there was a beam of light shining through.

That did not last long, as the woman, was afraid to leave her children with someone for the day. She is illegally in the country and fears for her family. I cannot say that I blame her, but Classmate 2 (originally from Mexico but is here legally) recommends against using her as a primary due to the possibility of complications with her family. We left, not having failed, but without the ring of great success.

As we headed up the road, I got a call from Classmate 3 who was seeing people 60 miles from us that night. She declared that success was with us afterall as she found two patients! They could be at the clinic the next day.

I continued with my plan to see patients who called in from the flyers and such, but with no success. More calls were made, and in the process, I made an interesting discovery. The guy who had been a previous WREB patient claimed he had been planning to go with Classmate 3 all along. I let Classmate 3 know that she needed to get in contact with this guy quick to confirm.

By the time one of Classmate 3's newly identified patients showed up, she had confirmed that she did have a patient in this other guy afterall. I had a patient. The other two who were looking for back-ups had decided to stick with who they already had.

Life was good, even though it was the day before the exam when I found my patient.

What A Knockabout Of Pure Fun That Was! pt. 1


As a recent dental hygiene graduate, I hope to practice soon. Practicing requires getting a license in that state. Getting a license requires taking the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam , which is a written exam, and a regional clinical exam where your performance in cleaning a patient's teeth is scored. The Western Regional Examining Board administers those clinical exams for several states.

Some of my classmates took the exam in Dallas in April. Others took in in San Antonio at the start of May. I took it last Friday.

The exam itself is pretty basic. You clean a quarter of a mouth in 2.5 hours. Sounds simple, right? Well, it would be if I could hang on to a patient.

The patient requirements for the WREB exam are pretty tight. The patient must have heavy subgingival (below the gumline) calculus (tartar) deposits. Twelve is the magic number. 12. As in twelve large pieces of subgingival calculus in one quadrant of the mouth, or up to one quadrant plus four teeth anywhere else in the mouth.

I found my WREB patient early on. I was the first one in my class to have a WREB patient. I was excited, especially since it was our good friend and neighbor. I brought her in again in February to begin planning for my exam. I was rather upset to find out that she had brushed and flossed every day since the last appointment a couple of months earlier, diminishing the size and quantity of the deposits, and no longer qualified as a WREB patient. Good for her, bad for me.

I began to search again. It took another two and a half months to find another suitable candidate. She is a nurse in a retirement home. She said that she understood what it was like to have such big exams for getting a license to practice and agreed to do whatever she could to help, including go with me to my exam in Houston. Sadly, that was the last time I saw her. She has not returned any of my calls or messages since.

Which brings us to about three weeks before the exam. I have no WREB patient and no prospects.

It is the last week of school and I need a Class IV (a particularly difficult class of patient) to complete the semester and graduate. I have nobody on the list, and the clinic has not screened a Class IV since November. She walks in off the street one afternoon. I get her back in for two consecutive days to finish her periodontal treatment just in time for the semester to close out. Frustratingly, she would have been pretty good for WREB, except for the part where had I not completed her treatment, I wouldn't have been able to graduate, and therefore would not have been allowed to sit for the WREB exam.

The semester closes out without success at finding a WREB patient.