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WELCOME. Clinical Professionalism. Making it a triple threat between YOU, YOUR INSTRUCTOR, and YOUR PATIENT By Leah Spittle RDH, BS. What is a Dental Hygienist to patients?. A “teeth cleaner”? A Dental Assistant? A “Dental Nurse”? Someone who yells at me to floss every 6 months?.

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Clinical professionalism

Clinical Professionalism

Making it a triple threat between YOU, YOUR INSTRUCTOR, and YOUR PATIENT

By Leah Spittle RDH, BS


What is a dental hygienist to patients
What is a Dental Hygienist to patients?

  • A “teeth cleaner”?

  • A Dental Assistant?

  • A “Dental Nurse”?

  • Someone who yells at me to floss every 6 months?


What is a clinical dental hygiene professional
What is a Clinical Dental Hygiene Professional?

  • YOU!

  • 80%/20% Rule

  • Licensed Dental Professional Specializing in

    • Preventative oral health

    • Education of patients

    • Provide dental hygiene diagnosis


Definition according to adha
Definition according to ADHA

  • The dental hygienist employs critical decision-making skills to reach conclusions about the patient’s needs related to oral health and disease that fall within the dental hygiene scope of practice. The hygienist then develops the dental hygiene treatment plan which is incorporated into the comprehensive treatment plan developed by the dentist and/or other health care providers. The development of a dental hygiene diagnosis requires the use of skills to identify the source of the patient’s problem.


What is clinical professionalism
What is clinical professionalism?

  • It’s not just the job you DO…it’s how you DO the job!

  • It is shown through thoughts, appearance, and actions

  • It’s the display of how a Dental Hygienist conducts themselves in a professional situation

    • Educational institution

      • Pre clinic and clinic

    • Public health venue

    • Dental office

    • It is essential to patient care



Clinical professionalism and you
Clinical Professionalism and YOU threat”

  • Appearance

    • Maintain proper personal hygiene

      • Bathe/shower daily

      • Deodorant is worn

      • Hair brushed and styled appropriately

      • NO heavy perfume or lotions

      • Nails: clean, cut, polish not chipped

      • Teeth brushed and breath fresh

      • Make-up: not required but if worn no excessive or dramatic looks

      • Look awake and alert

      • Scrubs: pressed, free of pet hair, lint etc.

      • Shoes clean and tied

      • Socks matching and worn above ankle bone


Clinical professionalism and you1
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOU

  • NEVER use negative self-talk

  • Practice showing self respect in clinic and other parts of life

    • Never say these to yourself, your instructor, or your patient

      • “I can’t!”

      • “This sucks”

      • “I will never get this”

      • “I’ll never pass”

      • “I’m going to fail”

      • “I’ll never be like so-n-so….”

      • “This is stupid”

      • “This is HOPELESS”

      • Be Positive!


Clinical professionalism and you2
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOU

  • Never be afraid to ask for help

  • If you do not understand something- address it again!



Clinical professionalism and your instructor
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOUR INSTRUCTOR

  • BE RESPECTFUL!

    • They want you to succeed!

    • Never question their method of instruction

      • Never question their reason for passing or failing you in front of a patient

      • If you have a problem address it after clinic

      • Avoid loud, boisterous talk in clinic

      • Saying these things are not appropriate and are childish

        • “But that is not what another instructor told me”

        • “Well so-n-so passed me last time!”

          • Never tell an instructor NO!



Clinical professionalism and your patient
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOUR PATIENT

  • Speak clearly

    • Loud enough for your patient to hear you, but not so loud the whole clinic can

    • Annunciate your words

    • Consider the elderly or the hearing impaired

      • Remove mask

      • Do not sit with arms crossed


Clinical professionalism and your patient1
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOUR PATIENT

  • Listen to them

    • Patients want to be heard

    • Do not rush them when they answer your questions


Clinical professionalism and your patient2
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOUR PATIENT

  • Use and maintain eye contact

    • Never turn your back to them when asking questions

    • Confidently look them in the eye when talking with them

    • Use affirming head nods letting them know you understand


Clinical professionalism and your patient3
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOUR PATIENT

  • Be confident in your skills/treatment with your patient

    • Certain words/phrases can make the patient anxious or uncomfortable

    • Do NOT say:

      • “Oops”

      • “I’m sorry”-over and over again

      • “Am I hurting you”-over and over again

      • “YOU’RE BLEEDING!”

      • “I see blood”

      • “This looks bad”

      • “This looks gross”

      • “That doesn’t look normal!”


Clinical professionalism and your patient4
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOUR PATIENT

  • Be respectful and polite

    • Greet them with a smile and “Hello”

    • Use proper, courteous terms

      • “Yes ma’am”….”Yes Sir”

      • Please

      • Thank you

      • Excuse me

      • Use “Permission Statements”


Clinical professionalism and your patient5
Clinical Professionalism and threat”YOUR PATIENT

  • NEVER use slang terms, inappropriate language, or swear words

    • Never say:

      • Any swear word AT ALL!

      • “Crap”

      • “This sucks”

      • “Whatever”

      • “Oh my…” (OMG)


To review
To Review threat”


Reviewing what we have learned
Reviewing what we have learned threat”

  • Being a dental hygienist is not just about cleaning someone’s teeth.

  • It is about showcasing clinical professionalism and individual respect for yourself, your instructor, and your patient.

  • Clinical professionalism and individual respect is shown through words, thoughts, actions, and appearance.


Practice clinical professionalism now
Practice Clinical Professionalism threat”NOW!

  • Before you know it you will have your first patient in YOUR CHAIR!

  • As instructors we want you to have fun and succeed!

  • Clinical Professionalism begins with YOU!


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