A day in the life
Kathleen Esposito talks about second year (Diploma in Dental Hygiene)
You want to treat the patients well, you want to do a good job—and you want to make sure the profs think you’re doing a good job.
Gaining competenties and confidence
In her second year of Dal’s Diploma in Dental Hygiene (DDH) program, Kathleen Esposito has been passionate about teeth since she was seven years old: “I loved going to the dentist! I guess that makes me pretty weird,” she laughs.
“I’ve had a lot of procedures done, and they’ve all been positive—so maybe that’s why,” she adds. “And I always thought my dental hygienist was having a good time! The social aspect of the appointment is important. The hygienist forms a bond with patients—you see them every six months, talk with them and get to know them.”
Kathleen came to Halifax from Eastport, Maine three years ago. Though she’s happy to be relatively close to home, it wasn’t her top priority. “Mainly, I just wanted to come to Dal. I was already familiar with the school because the Faculty of Dentistry recruits in Maine, and I liked what I heard.”
Now, Kathleen appreciates the program’s emphasis on the clinical experience. She remembers her first experience as “terrifying! It’s a big responsibility. First, we practiced on each other or the typodonts—the fake heads. And that was fine," she says. "But then you’re working on a real person.”
But she quickly learned how to cope. “You just have to be organized and prepared,” she says. “But I’ve also learned it’s important to tell yourself you can do it. I’ve gained a lot of confidence."
Some of that confidence comes from finding out her patients think she’s doing a good job. One patient was especially positive when filling out his feedback form. “Normally, these forms are anonymous,” she says, “but he signed his and gave me scores of 5+!”
As the only American in the class of 41 students, Kathleen was initially worried about making friends, “but I met people right away!” And being class president has helped her get to know people even better. “I’ve made some amazing friends here. I love my classmates—some are like family!”