WCU Graduate Spotlight: Rachel Zikoski

After graduating from art school, the idea of being an artist really appealed to Rachel Zikoski. She just wasn’t too keen on the whole “starving” artist thing.

“That was partially why I went into dental hygiene — to have something that was more secure, that I could do and was still flexible if I wanted it,” she said.

A graduate of West Coast University’s dental hygiene program, Zikoski is returning to the WCU-Orange County campus now as an instructor at the dental hygiene clinic.

After working in the field for about five years, Zikoski said she’s “really excited” about the prospect of helping guide the next generation of dental hygienists.

“I just want to help them be better professionals and take their skills and use them in real-life settings,” she said. “We have better facilities and better technology than other schools and the process we teach in the clinic is the same as when you’re working, but we do it like three times faster in the real world.”


How did WCU prepare you for a career in dental hygiene?

I think working in the clinic was a good experience. It was very, you know, they have all the technology that you’ll see in the real world, and even though you’re given much more time to work on patients, they try to keep it so that it’s as close to a clinical setting as possible.

What do you wish you had known as a student?

Looking back I have a better view of the bigger picture; whereas, when I was in school, I was always focused so much on all the little details and maybe not seeing it as the broader picture. So, it’s good to look at it in terms of like how each thing relates to each other.

What’s the biggest misconception about dental hygiene?

Most people think that dental hygiene is just about cleaning teeth but is so much more than that. It incorporates your overall health. There’s a lot more that you need to know than just how to scrape teeth. I think having a really good background in education is very important to be able to really help your patients.

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.