FINDING A PATIENT:
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.