Time Management Methods Utilized by Dental Hygiene Students

Gibes, Pamela, and Kathi Shepherd

Hygienists in a clinical setting, need effective time management skills to provide patient care in an efficient, limited stress environment. Seven years of dental hygiene student exit interview data collected at the University of Detroit Mercy reveal time management as one of the areas they feel least prepared. A review of the literature suggests that acquisition of organization and academic time management skills may facilitate time management in private practice. In order to formally incorporate strategies to improve time management skills in the dental hygiene curriculum, an investigation was initiated. The objectives of the study are to 1) assess time management mechanisms utilized and perceived by current students to be effective in managing their academic workload; 2) identify methods utilized by program faculty to assist students with time management and, 3) upon incorporation of formal strategies designed to improve time management skills, assess student preparedness for the skill at time of graduation. Phase one of the project included an exit program survey conducted May 2007 assessing time management strategies utilized by students while preparing for board examinations the final term of the program. Responses included use of a time management worksheet, use of iPods while commuting, use of study note cards, utilizing an electronic note card system on a tablet PC, and the use of a daily planner with study time reminders. These findings support continuation of the project. Phase two will involve 1) a student survey assessing their use of time management mechanisms and 2) a concurrent faculty survey assessing the manner in which faculty assist students with time management. The data will be compiled and shared. Upon graduation, preparedness for time management in private practice will be assessed through a student survey.