Have you been wondering if a degree in dental hygiene is worth it? Wishing you could chat with an alum about their experience with an accredited dental hygiene program? Well, now you can!
Here at Concorde one of our greatest joys is sharing the success stories of our alumni through up-close interviews! We are excited to share with you the journey of Jenna Oxley, a 2016 Concorde's Dallas Dental Hygiene program graduate.
We had the opportunity to talk with Oxley and learn more about her story, here are some excerpts of what she had to share:
How did you end up enrolling in the dental hygiene program at Concorde?
I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor's in Psychology and just happened to stumble into the dental profession. I found that I loved it. I became a Registered Dental Assistant.
For nine years, I grew and moved around the field before making the jump to dental hygiene. I have been an orthodontic assistant, marketing coordinator, new patient and treatment coordinator, and specialized in dental software.
Tell us about your time in the dental hygiene program. Highs? Challenges?
Unfortunately, I was extremely ill during the admission process. I passed all the tests but was stuck in the ICU during the interview section, and therefore had to forfeit my potential spot. I was extremely disappointed.
I was finally released from the hospital and called to see if there was anything I could still do for the upcoming term. The staff, especially Todd, was so sweet and understanding. They allowed me to at least be on the waiting list. There was hope! Luckily, I got in and was able to get started on my goal of becoming a dental hygienist.
Then at the end of the very first term, I found out that I had an extremely rare form of leukemia, which is why I had been so sick. I needed to start a high dose of chemo right away. I had to fly to the Mayo Clinic during the terms for additional treatments. Not only was it physically exhausting going through chemo, but mentally and emotionally as well.
I would do chemo all morning and then a clinic in the evening or vice versa. The chemo facility got to know me well and would even help me study for all my exams. The teachers at Concorde were extremely supportive, and still, lovingly joke about how I would bring a sick bag with me to class just in case.
The program is demanding, as it should be. Unfortunately, as the terms continued, the medication started to really take its toll. The type of chemo I was on really affected my short-term memory. I felt as if I was really struggling to keep up with the workload, family life, and treatment.
My family wanted me to drop out. They were worried about my health and additional stress. I was too. I reached out to one of my amazing teachers, Mrs. Fisher, for options if that did occur and guidance in general. It was with her encouragement and my drive that I decided to see it through. I ended up graduating as Valedictorian of my class.
Where are you currently working?
I currently work for Dr. Meadows. She runs a small practice that is casual and comfortable. The patients and staff are great! It never feels like work, but we always get the job done.
If I am not working for her then I might temp [fill short-term dental hygienist needs for another office]. Temping is like being a duck on water. You have to look calm and collected floating on the water, but underneath you are paddling like crazy. It can be exciting and fun but stressful too. You are in a new office with different policies and computer software, you have no idea where anything is, and you need to look as if you belong. You have to adapt quickly.
What's it like being a Dental Hygienist?
For me, it's great. I really think it depends on who you work with and for. It is really important for your values and ethics to match those around you. Once you have found your dental home, it allows you to continue to strive and develop. I feel like I learn something new every day in a field that is constantly evolving... which is great for me because I hate to be bored.
Like any job, it has its' challenges and can be demanding (difficult patient, scheduling conflicts, problems with equipment, hard on the body), but overall, I think I found my calling. My favorite part is getting to know and serve my patients. I really enjoy becoming a part of their lives and through patient education seeing them improve their dental and overall health.
What was your favorite Concorde experience?
Can I say graduating?! Don't misunderstand me. The program was phenomenal. The admissions team, financial department, teachers, everyone was amazing. I would not be where I am today without them. It is just nice to be done and in my new life. I am able to enjoy my husband and little boy, the rest of my family and friends.
I am able to have the flexibility and financial means to handle my medical condition and am the healthiest I have been in ten years. I am able to wake up and look forward to my job and know I am making a difference one smile at a time. I can do all of these things because Concorde helped me to get there.
What's a hidden talent, favorite hobby or little-known fact about yourself?
I love being a mom! My little boy is awesome and it takes everything in me not to spoil him all the time. I love kickboxing and am pretty good, so watch out!
I have been to 13 different countries. I love to travel and learn about different cultures, religions, and food. I am headed to Japan next.
Becoming a Dental Hygienist
We really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the journey Oxley had coming to and going through Concorde to accomplish her dream of becoming a dental hygienist.
If you'd like to learn more about the Dental Hygienist, online Dental Hygiene degree program, or Dental Assistant programs at Concorde, or any of our other health care programs, reach out to us today!
**Editor's note: Featured photo is a stock photo from Concorde Dental Hygiene Clinic.