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So, you want to be a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH)…

First things first, you need to job shadow one. The easiest way to do that is to ask the Dental Hygienist (DH) who provides your care to do that. But, if you wanted to be a high performer, then I’d suggest that you job shadow a RDH at a large dental clinic, a small (mom and pop style) one, and then a Dental Hygiene Clinic Owner or one of the RDH’s there. Why? Because all these workplaces will have a different dynamic and culture; you want to be prepared!
The purpose of the job shadow is to see if the environment, expectations, and tasks are going to fit your needs. I wouldn’t want anyone going into a profession without a full understanding of your future day-to-day activities. The education time and financial cost are huge, so I want you to like it after you graduate!

Then after you job shadow, and you decide that it’s still for you, I suggest you find a clinic where you can volunteer to get some experience or maybe they’ll have a part-time job for you; there are small roles for sterilization/clinic helper or even administrative duties that may be a perfect fit. I believe this will get you prepped for the program, and you will have a head start amongst your peers!

You may find the career profile information helpful here: https://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo/occupations-in-alberta/occupation-profiles/dental-hygienist/

What do you need to be a Dental Hygienist?

  1. The license to practice in the province where you want to live. In Alberta, you get your license from the Alberta College of Dental Hygienists (link to registration information here: https://www.acdh.ca/registering-as-a-dental-hygienist/registration-faqs) They are the profession’s regulator and ensure public safety. You will also be required to have CPR-Basic Life Support and Criminal Record Check with Vulnerable Sector among other things.
  2. You need to research the different hygiene schools/programs, and the options vary across Canada for a diploma or degree. Each school will have its requirements listed to apply to their program, so you will want to review that and ensure any prerequisites are addressed. Copy this link and check your options: https://www.cdha.ca/cdha/Education/Students/Dental_Hygiene_Schools___Programs/CDHA/Education/Students/Dental_Hygiene_Schools___Programs.aspx

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