Dental hygiene students in S.C. face license delays due to virus outbreak

Careers on Hold for Dental Students

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Dental hygiene students are worrying about their future after facing licensing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As states continue to reopen across the country, dental offices have been extra busy with patients. But the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t only impacted non-emergency visits, it’s also affecting those hoping to get into the dentistry field.

Lindsay Sherrill, a second-year dental hygiene student at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, was supposed to graduate with her license to practice this month.

But because of the pandemic, that’s all changed, and starting her dream career is now on hold.

Sherrill said she took the written board on Wednesday after it was rescheduled multiple times, but she still has her clinical board, which is needed in order for her to get her license.

“There’s 20 of us in our class and we were going to graduate the second part of May and several of us had plans to move out-of-state or to start a job somewhere else locally and unfortunately, because we can’t get our license to practice, we can’t be official registered dental hygienist," Sherrill said.

Sherill explained what her director said about the plan they have for her class to continue working on completing the class portion.

“So we will just be going over instrumentation, we’ll be comped on our skills and then after that, once she has gotten those simulated mannequins in, she said she’s ordered some of those for us to kind of practice and get those clinical hours made up," Sherill said.

Sherill also added many of her classmates, including herself, have loans and other kinds of expenses they want to pay off. But because of the hold on licenses, payments like that are also being put on hold.

Right now, she said her first day back in clinic is on June 5, but when it comes to the clinical board that date is up in the air.

For dental offices re-accepting non-emergency visits, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shared some recommendations.

Some of the recommendations include telephone screens with patients before visits to screen them for any COVID-19 symptoms. Another recommendation is for staff, like practicing sound hand hygiene and putting on a mask before entering a patient or care room.

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