Student Defense: Dental Hygienists

Studying to become a dental hygienist is an intelligent decision for your future. According to the BLS, this field is growing exponentially in the United States and promises lucrative earnings and job growth. You play an essential role in every dentist's office by establishing professional relationships with clients and supporting the primary duties of dentists. However, to get to that point, you must do well in your program and maintain ethical behavior as you start your training. If you can't check all the boxes, you may not finish your associate's or bachelor's degree or receive a license.

Every dental hygienist in the United States must have a license to practice after graduation. But if you don't progress adequately or have professionalism and conduct issues, it won't happen. You may face sanctions from your college and not graduate because of accusations. You spent countless hours getting your dental hygienist degree, and one mistake or academic issue can put you off track. If you face allegations that threaten your reputation and career, speak to a professional specializing in student defense.

Conduct Issues

Conduct matters – primarily when you work with professionals and patients in the healthcare industry. As a future dental hygienist, you must demonstrate ethical behavior befitting your career. The American Dental Hygienist Association (ADHA) established a code of ethics to “promote high levels of ethical consciousness, decision-making, and practice.” Students hold a great deal of responsibility towards themselves, their peers, and faculty members. You face sanctions if your behavior comes under question or you perform actions against the code or your school's standards.

As a prospective dental hygienist, you must always strive for personal growth and monitor your behavior. During your program, your conduct is one of the things that peers and professors pay attention to both inwardly and through rating your performance. Undesirable behavior leads to accusations, reports against you, hearing panels, and sanctions. However, administrators and faculty members scrutinize your conduct when you commit multiple violations. They may impose stricter sanctions for repeated incidents, leading to suspension or expulsion. And while not all penalties ruin your reputation, career trajectory, and chances of graduation, it's not worth the risk.

Academic Progression Issues

Staying up-to-par with your peers and degree requirements are necessary if you want to graduate from your dental hygiene program on time. Like ethical behavior and conduct, your progress is a significant factor in your graduation prospects because you need to know the material before you work with patients. However, sometimes it isn't easy to keep up, and you may face challenges in your studies or theory application. If you cannot keep your grades up, you may face academic probation and go through remedial classes to catch up.

Although remediation isn't an ideal scenario for a struggling student, it is the only way you can remain enrolled and continue your program. If you chronically fail your courses, you face permanent dismissal from your program. In some cases, your school may allow you to appeal a grade, but you may not have the right tools to do so adequately. With the help of an attorney-advisor, you can establish a concrete plan to appeal a remediation plan or other similar action if you have a solid reason.

Professionalism Issues

One of the essential aspects of your training to become a dental hygienist is your professionalism. Because you work with patients from all walks of life and dentists and dental teams, you must always be professional and maintain that behavior in and out of the clinic. Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • Avoiding discrimination based on color, gender, religion, and social class
  • Handling controlled substances responsibly and avoiding misusing them
  • Not being under the influence during your program and while on the job
  • Avoiding DUIs and violent altercations with others
  • Identifying and removing yourself from patient or educational situations where there is a conflict of interest
  • Respecting your colleagues and professors
  • Documenting and reporting inappropriate or illegal activities by the healthcare providers you work with
  • Refraining from sexually assaulting patients and peers

The above are a few examples of unprofessional behavior, but many other activities fall under this category. Unprofessional behavior is a career-killer, even if a person has a big name in the industry. Always avoid professional blunders during your program because they significantly affect your future.

However, sometimes a dental hygienist student faces false or baseless accusations of unprofessional conduct. When this happens, many students face bias and obstacles when facing a disciplinary panel.

If you face an accusation, you must speak with a seasoned professional who understands the implications. Due to these allegations, you may lose your chance to become a hygienist and find it challenging to start over in another program.

What To Do When Facing Accusations

When you face accusations of poor conduct, professionalism issues, and lack of academic progression, it may be tempting to lash out or act in anger. These issues are sensitive and may cost you your degree, so moving forward with care and attention can make all the difference in your case. Some of the ways that you can decrease the likelihood of escalation include:

Staying Calm

Your behavior matters when resolving an issue with a disciplinary board or honor council. Acting out of anger is the best way to ensure your case becomes more complex than how it started. Always stay calm and stay professional when you learn of the allegations.

Understand the Allegations

A faculty member, Dean, or Officer may present the case details and ask you to meet them to discuss the charges. When this happens, ask questions to understand what the accusation is and what rule it violates.

Go Through the Handbook

Every university and college has a student handbook. These usually contain information on what constitutes a violation and the adjudication process when things go wrong. Go through the latest copy of your school's manual to understand the process and ensure no procedural errors decrease the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Do Not Confront the Accuser

Never confront the person who made the accusations. Whether a faculty member or a peer, they are entitled to file a complaint if they believe they witnessed a violation. In some cases, your effort to confront an accuser may lead to additional allegations that lead to worse sanctions. You will have a chance to do so during the hearing, which is a better environment to do so without issues.

Collect Information and Evidence

As soon as you receive notice of an allegation, gather information and evidence to increase your chances of a favorable outcome. For example, suppose someone mentioned that they saw you behaving unprofessionally in a particular place. In that case, you can look for evidence that proves that you were somewhere else (if that is the case). The more convincing your proof, the stronger your defense becomes.

Gather Statements

One of the best ways to disprove allegations against your character and reputation is to gather information from people who know you well. Advisors, prominent community members, peers, and faculty members are excellent places to start. The more people can vouch for your professionalism and conduct, the better your chances of limiting bias against you when it's time for a hearing.

Talk to An Advisor

Talking to an experienced professional who understands how honor panels and disciplinary boards work is essential. When you speak to a professional, they outline how to approach your case and work in your best interests. From how to address the panel to gathering the proper witnesses and evidence, an advisor knows what steps to take and guides you in the right direction for a better case outcome. The moral and psychological support that an attorney-advisor provides helps you overcome the stress and develop a strategy to face allegations with strength.

Remember that it is not easy to start over, especially if you live in a state with limited educational opportunities. Remember that when you approach your case the right way and have an experienced professional, your chances of a favorable result increase.

The Repercussions of Dismissal

One of the most damaging sanctions for dental hygienist students is permanent dismissal. Suspended students only stop their programs for a limited time, but expelled students can't return. The repercussions of a permanent discharge from your program include:

  • Reputation Damage: In the healthcare and dental industry, reputation is everything. Even if the allegations are untrue, people are quick to judge and slow to forget. Reputation damage decreases the likelihood of finding a good job. Your future employer may ask questions about the gap in your permanent record.
  • Loss of Time and Effort: No matter how hard you studied and your effort in your program, an expulsion erases everything. You cannot start over in another program quickly since Admissions Officers prefer students with unblemished records.
  • Loss of Scholarships, Grants, and Housing: An expelled student loses all funding and money for their programs. If you live in student housing, you will need to find a new place and spend more money figuring out your next move.
  • Financial Issues: Many dental hygienist programs cost thousands of dollars. If you receive a permanent dismissal, you lose all the money you placed in your degree and may have a significant amount of student debt. Moreover, you must factor in unexpected expenses that leave a hole in your wallet and prevent you from applying to another program.
  • Loss of Morale and Direction: Facing a disciplinary board and losing your placement in college places you under much stress. You may lose your enthusiasm for the field and not want to continue your studies. All of your hopes and dreams for this degree no longer apply, and some people choose other programs altogether.

Expulsion ruins your chances of a bright future as a dental hygienist and puts you back on square one. That's why it's essential to talk to a professional attorney-advisor as soon as you learn of the allegations against you to make the best decision for your future and salvage your placement.

Some people wait until the appeals process to speak to a professional. That action may cause an outcome they do not expect, failing to convince. It is difficult to change a Dean or President's mind if you did not approach your case with caution and the hearing was against you. You must contact an advisor as soon as you learn of the charges to reduce the likelihood of expulsion. This form of dismissal alters the course of your personal and professional life.

Why Hire an Attorney-Advisor?

The implications of dismissal from your dental hygienist program are enormous. You cannot pick up where you left off in a different program, and you'll lose time, effort, and money if you want to do it all again. A suspension may delay your graduation, but an expulsion places you in the position you started. When you face accusations of conduct, professionalism, or academic progression issues, you need the help of an attorney-advisor.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento understands what you and your family are going through as you anxiously wait for a panel's decision. With years of experience working with students nationwide, advisor Lento prepares you for what's coming next.

Advisor Lento identifies bias, weak evidence, holes in witness statements, and other factors that negatively impact your case outcome. With his solid knowledge and experience, advisor Lento helps negotiate for a favorable result to minimize the damage allegations have on your future.

No matter the mistake's severity, you deserve a fair investigation and hearing. Don't let administrators intimidate you – every minute is critical when your degree and future are on the line.

If you are a dental hygienist student accused of conduct, professionalism, and academic progress issues, take charge of your future. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a discreet consultation at 888-535-3686.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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