Two years ago, I was presented with the suggestion of creating a continuing education (CE) course for my Bachelor’s Degree Capstone project. Initially the idea was daunting. Creating a course would be something I felt I could successfully complete but teaching it made me anxious. I never thought I would stand up and speak in front of an audience, especially an audience of fellow dental hygienists with more experience in the field than myself. I weighed all of my project ideas for a few weeks but the idea of the CE course kept returning to the forefront of my mind. Something sparked my desire to take on a challenge and expand in my role as a dental hygienist outside of the clinical setting.
I finally settled on the idea of creating a CE course and chose to create a course on sleep disordered breathing (SDB) for the dental hygienist. The doctor I work with specializes in creating oral appliances for SDB so I had some basic knowledge signs and symptoms to look for as a dental hygienist. I thought it would be an interesting topic to learn more about and share with others. Another influencing factor, I have personally seen a perfect example of SDB. Countless times I have seen my grandfather fall asleep in his lazy boy and snore. Every once in a while, he would stop breathing and my family and I would count how long he stopped and make jokes about it. We didn’t realize how serious of a problem his SDB was because we did not have adequate knowledge about the threat it poses to a person’s health. Looking back now, I truly believe that his SDB could have been a contributing factor to some of his other health concerns and if it would have been diagnosed and treated, could have helped him eliminate some of those concerns. This is just one example of a “I wish I knew then what I know now” moments.
With guidance from the doctor I work with, I began my in-depth research of SDB, specifically sleep apnea. I spent weeks studying, listening to CE courses, and meeting with my doctor to discuss my progress and pick his brain for content and ideas. He also reviewed my content to make sure it was clear and accurate. I focused on compiling information that would be useful for a dental hygienist such as clinical signs and symptoms as well as the basics of SDB in general. Diving into one specific topic allowed me to become an expert in SDB and how it relates to dental hygiene. The more knowledge I obtained, the more confident I felt when I thought about presenting my course.
Once the research portion was complete, I created a power point and handout to share while I would be presenting. I also had to figure out all of the day of presentation details and have my CE course content approved. There was so much more involved than I initially thought about such as choosing a location to hold the CE course, creating flyers and taking them to local office to spread the word about the course, and deciding what kind of snacks to have.
When presentation day came around, I was anxious to speak. I never thought I would be able to formally speak in front of others but with tons of research, practice, and encouragement I was able to present with confidence and excitement. I gained valuable speaking and event planning experience but nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment and the positive feedback I received from the participants. I’m so glad that I was encouraged to create my own CE course. Creating a CE course is a great way to expand in your role as a dental hygienist as well as enhance your knowledge in a topic that you have a passion for! No one will ever be an expert in everything but it can be fun to be an expert in something.
Image by Larisa Koshkina