Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene
Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene
Anissa M. Champeau
Anissa Champeau (photo courtesy of Amberlight Photography LLC) has been practicing as a clinical registered dental hygienist in the Milwaukee area for nearly three years, and strives to provide the most comprehensive, up-to-date patient care possible. Champeau has worked for a variety of dental offices in the Milwaukee area throughout her professional career, and currently works more than 40 hours between two private dental offices in the suburbs of Milwaukee. Champeau attended Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., to study dental hygiene right after high school. As a student hygienist, she traveled to Guyana in South America for a dental mission trip, on which she helped provide much-needed dental care to more than 500 patients.
Champeau obtained an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene in May 2009, and while working full-time hours in two private dental offices, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene with cum laude honors through an online degree completion program offered by Ferris State in December 2010. Champeau has served her community through dental volunteer work, specifically geared towards children, people of low socioeconomic status, and patients with high dental needs. By staying active through volunteerism, community opportunities, and research, Champeau hopes to continue to grow as a dental professional, gain more experience, and to teach dental hygiene at the university level in the near future.
Why did you decide to pursue a major in dental hygiene in college?
I decided to major in dental hygiene in college because I wanted to have a stable career that focused on caring for people. After taking a few career-assessment tests my freshman year of high school, my most compatible careers were in allied health. For this class, I was able to interview and shadow a hygienist and nurse. In the end, I decided to major in dental hygiene because I wanted to focus on one area of the body. The nice thing about working in the dental field is having flexible scheduling with most holidays and weekends off with a great salary. Typically, hygienists can work as many or least amount of hours in one or many dental offices. I personally work 47 hours in a five-day work week. Being a hygienist is great for women or men who want to be able to earn a nice salary and raise a family. One day in the future, I would like to work part time in order to raise a family.
What was the most interesting part of majoring in dental hygiene?
The most interesting aspect of the entire program was working at the on-campus dental clinic. For your first semester, you practice with your fellow classmates on instrumentation techniques and radiographs. In the state of Michigan, hygienists are able to have extended licenses to administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide gas. During our last semester in the program, we had to practice administering these agents on one another. The remainder of your semesters, you will have your own patients to practice learned skills on. In most cases, it will take you anywhere from 3-12 hours to complete a single patient.
I believe it is important for any student to stay active with their professional organization, school clubs, and within their community. As president of my student organization, I had to learn to delegate tasks to my group members and organize several community service projects while working on my degree and part-time campus job. By staying active, you are able to manage your time well and be efficient in everything that you do. This is a very valuable skill to have in almost any profession, specifically one in health care.
I obtained my bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. I took extra courses on research, sales, marketing, allied health education, and economics for this degree. One nice thing about having a bachelor’s degree in hygiene is you can have more variety within your career. Many hygienists with this higher degree may end up teaching at a college/university level, conduct research, or work in dental sales.
What was the most challenging part of majoring in dental hygiene?
Most dental hygiene programs in the U.S. are very competitive; doing well in your prerequisites and throughout the program is essential. At the school I attended, there was at least a two-year waiting list before you can even apply to the program. A lot of your prerequisite courses will be taken with other students and professors in the allied health field.
Throughout my four years in school, I had to balance working full time on campus, doing well in school, and staying active with community and school activities, while balancing a healthy relationship with my hygiene classmates. While being in the program, the most challenging aspect was keeping up with lecture, study time, clinic, laboratory work, and prepping for our board exams prior to licensure. In the state of Michigan, I had to take a total of five board exams, four written exams, and one clinical in order to obtain licensure to practice upon graduation.
How do you apply the knowledge you learned in school about dental hygiene in your current line of work? What skills did you gain in your dental hygiene education that you still put to use today?
What you learn in clinic at hygiene school is typically directly applied to working as a licensed clinician. As a dental hygienist, we not only apply our knowledge to our patient’s oral health, but also their general health. The link between oral health and general health is becoming more prevalent with today’s health-focused society. As oral hygiene educators, it is important for us to be able to properly educate our patients on the importance of good oral hygiene and living a healthy lifestyle. It is essential for dental hygienists to stay current on new technologies, procedures, skills, and health knowledge to better serve our patients.
Do you have any words of advice to students who are considering majoring in dental hygiene?
I would advise anyone who is interested in becoming a dental hygienist to shadow someone practicing in a clinical setting. If possible, I would recommend anyone who is interested in becoming a dental hygienist to obtain a job in dental assisting prior to entering the program. I wish I had done this. A nice portion of your hygiene education can be learned through working as an assistant or the front desk in a dental office. Through observing my classmates in my program, those who were dental assistants prior to hygiene school had an easier time in clinic, with dental terminology, and in lab!