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What is a hygienist supposed to do when the office is so bad it gives you anxiety just thinking about going to work?

It is starting to effect me physically. I want to quit in the worst way but there are zero jobs out there. What have other hygienists done when faced with this dilemma?

I really love hygiene but have become bitter about it due to how I have been treated. I’m feeling lost and unsure of what to do, or where to go from here. Thanks!



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23 Answers

I was in a very similar situation at the previous office I worked at. I worked there for over 13 years before I finally found my dream job! I was bullied by staff and the doctor. Yes, there IS SUCH A THING AS BULLYING IN THE WORK PLACE!! I was treated horribly and I walked on egg shells every day I was there. Their was another hygienist there who felt threatened by me because the patients liked me and she couldn’t stand it. She would make up lies about my work and complained to the doctor (who, by the way, was no boss) about everything I did. I couldn’t do anything right. I lost sleep, I had anxiety attacks, I did everything I could to do things to get them to like me, but she made my life a living hell at that place. She was the type of person, that she couldn’t feel better about herself unless she knocked others down. She made fun of patients, and ridiculed them. She liked to gossip with the patients and then did a 15 min prophy. She never probed, and if she had one of my patients in her schedule she would put things in the chart like “prev RDH did not do this or that” It was a living nightmare for me. She would come in every morning at 8:30 and she had an 8 am pt waiting in the waiting room. She would drive home for her lunch, leave at 11:30, after rushing through her 11 am pt, then get back at 1:20 or 1:30 and leave her 1:00 pt sitting in the waiting room, I was there every day on time and always took my patient back on time. But I was told to sit and wait in my room till 6pm because I finished with my 5pm pt early, I was not allowed to leave because I was salary. We did not clock in and out. I saw my physician for anxiety and insomnia, I considered a psychologist because I thought it would help. I spoke to an attorney about office bullying. I was trapped. there were no jobs anywhere. I tried for 5 years to get a different job. My husband told me to quit a 100 times, we will make it, but I couldn’t put that burden on my family, I had a daughter entering college. I had to figure it out. Finally I tempted at an office who’s doctor told me he would call if he needed another hygienist. I just kept praying that it would work out. Finally, he called me and it will be 3 years I’ve been with my new practice. I work with wonderful doctors, an awesome team and I am so happy! I’ve made some great friends and we are like a family. So my advise to you would be, make phone calls, stop in office with your resume, ask to meet the doctor, temp anywhere you can, do anything to open up doors. I had called my current dr because I heard he was opening up a second practice and may need a RDH. I called and asked for him on the phone! I contacted my colleagues from college just to see if they knew of any openings, and hang on to hope that it will all work out! I thought my situation was hopeless, and now I’m happier than I’ve ever been! By the way, the previous doctor was very upset with me when I gave him, my 2 week notice, he couldn’t believe I would leave, lots of patients left that practice because I left and went to other practices, and dozens of patients have continued to follow me to my new practice even though it’s a longer drive.

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I have been exactly where you have been. I was in an office for 9 months where I literally went home crying every night. It was my first job out of school and it made me question my career choice. I hung in there for 9 months only for the job experience. I kept my eye out for other jobs and had to take a job a town away (1 1/2 hour commute) in order to get out of there. I am still commuting (going on 2 years) but its is SO worth the drive for an office that I love! Keep your head up and remind yourself why you chose this career. A good office will come your way and make you appreciate the good offices!

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I am so sorry for your situation! It’s sad that their are even offices like that out there! Unfortunately, the only option is to look for a new office. I have been in your exact situation; where I dreaded going in everyday to the point of becoming physically ill and yes, I became very bitter. I turned “looking for a job” into almost a second job because I needed to get out of there so badly. If you keep your eyes open, network, and apply like crazy, something will come up. I will say, in hindsight, I learned a lot from that horrible office, figured out what a “good” office was, and it makes me appreciate my job much more now. Keep your head up and good luck!

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Life is too short to live in misery! Seriously, look for a fit that is right for you. Network, temp, pray! It will happen, and your life will be better for it!

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It may be easier said then done, but you need to look for a new job. It is crucial to be happy with your employer/job. If you’re unhappy it will over flow into your life. I’ve always felt if I wouldn’t refer family and friends I wouldn’t work there. God bless and best of luck!

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I had to quit a job because I developed IBS from how much stress and anxiety the office gave me. I stuck it out for almost 2 years before I got the courage to leave. The staff was nice but the doctor could be quite mean at times. It’s NOT worth your health and sanity to stay. I have thousands of dollars of medical bills from tests to try to figure out my symptoms and everything was ruled out so my dr said it was anxiety and stressed induced IBS. Not fun!!! Leave!

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I agree with Lrskda. Take your time and look for another job. When you have secured your position at another office that you are happier with then give your current office a 2 week notice. Keep it professional

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I too was once in that place! I finally gave notice without having another job! Within a few days I was offered a long term temp job which became permanent! I am still there 3years later and glad I made the move everyday!

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What is it about the office that is causing anxiety? The boss, the staff, the patients? the work load? These are things to think about because some things are changable and others will be in any office environment. We all have co workers that get under out skin, or patients that we would rather not see. OUr perspective on things really make a difference too. There are days I want to scream and walk out. I dont ofcourse and when i take take the pressure off myself by just going in and doing the job to the best of my ability, i find the little things dont bother me so much. dont let the negativity of others effect you

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You may look into being a Full Time Fill-In Hygienist. I am in Tulsa, Ok and there are several hygienist that work every week as fill-in hygienist. You may even find a better office that is hiring during a Fill-In job…..if you do not like moving around a lot. Many offices needs maternity leave fill-in and that usually a couple months of steady work. Just a thought. I used to work for an office that was always closed during the school vacations etc. I would always have a Fill-In job for the weeks we were off. Never had problem finding extra work if I needed it.

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I know what you are going thru I worked at an office that totally gave me anxiety to come to every day. I also was nervous about leaving said office because it was my first job out of hygiene school but, I got on with a temp service till I found an awesome permanent position with better hours, closer to my home and five more bucks per hour! Not to mention the awesome and friendly staff members that make my day so much more pleasant! So just take a leap of faith and get outta there you can do it!

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I am astounded that there are offices out there that treat people like this. I lucked into my dream job out of school but my suggestion would be to actively look for something else but also try starting with the number one thing that is giving you problems and try to “fix it”. Think of some way to talk about it or change a policy some way to make the work place a better place. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and LOVE their job.

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Keep networking and looking …call the dental sales reps, handpiece reps, etc…get them your resume …start filling in for your RDH friends who go on vacation or sick or on maternity leave..get on LinkedIn and keep networking…! Get out ASAP! Good luck!

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Two words…”get out”…save yourself…spread your resume around…many Dr’s do not advertise effectively for part time needs…a resume passes over their desk and you get the call….fill in the blanks with another office until something full time opens up (if thats what u want)…but never settle at an office that horrible :/

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I have been feeling the same way. I have even started the process to go back to school for something else because I’m so frustrated. There are no jobs out there that are any closer than an hour from me and when there is a job hundreds apply so I never get called. I feel your pain!! Good luck!

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Unacceptable …set yourself a goal to find a place that appreciates you…move on..good luck

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I think so many of us have been there. I once worked in a small office where there was just me, an assistant and two front office. The doctor and I got along well, but the assistant did not like me. She would take instruments off of my tray while I was getting my patients and put them in the ultrasonic so I could not use them. I had to have a “secret stash” of extra instruments just because of this. She talked badly about me to the front office all of the time and one time, I was headed to call my patient back, she tripped me. I actually fell face first into the waiting room. Needless to say, this is when I went to the boss about the issues that were occurring. The boss seemed to understand and said he would have a talk with the assistant.
The next morning, I showed up at work, was met by one of the front office ladies and was told I was no longer needed. She had tears in her eyes and said she felt terribly about having to do this. She gave me an envelope that included a glowing reference and also 4 months of pay. That night, the same front office gal called me at home. Turns out, the assistant had been sleeping with the doc for over a year and told him that if he did not fire me, she would tell his wife. UNBELIEVABLE.
I found a job shortly after that and was there for 8 years and very happy.
Get your resume out there. Place an add in Craigslist offering temp. work. You will find something else where you don’t have to take the ugliness with you when you leave work everyday.

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Life is too short….apply and work at for a temp agency while you update your resume and do a working interview. Ask for and get the pay you want and deserve. If you need to, seek unemployment, but don’t suffer this situation. Things will certainly get better with your action!

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It is definitely time to find another office. Keep checking your resources for new positions. Try Craig’s list as well. Subscribe to Dentalpost.net. Contact some of your hygiene friends as well. Let them know you are looking. Sometimes doctors contact each other for staff. That’s how I found my current position. It was not advertised. My current employer contacted a periodontal office who just happened to have my resume on file.

It’s difficult when you feel trapped. I use Young Living essential oils when I get ready for work. I use Valor on my feet. Peace and Calming on my temples. The BEST one I use is White Angelica over my heart. That oil keeps negative energy out. They work wonders for me and until you can change your environment at least you can protect yourself from the negative energy you have to be in. I find when I wear these oils those around me get positively affected as well.

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You are not alone. Stay strong and keep searching!

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Get out! It’s not worth your health-I stayed somewhere very unhappy like that and ended up with an ulcer!

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I also worked in a practice that I dreaded going to work everyday. I needed someplace that offered insurance and left a wonderful practice to go there. I hated everyday and when my husband got a job with insurance it was my time to get out but there wasn’t anyplace to go. I finally just quit and temped, Something finally came up and I know have wonderful place to work with a great staff, great dentist and wonderful patients. It seems this is a common thread through all the responses. Don’t stop looking. Be persistent.

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There are many protections out there for the work place, unfortunately most people don’t choose to go that route. Sometimes you just need to stand up for yourself. If you can’t learn to do that, then you’ll always be facing situations like this. I did have a situation where the assistant lost it with me one day and verbally gave it to me. My smile and demeanor just infuriated her more. Well, the doctors, one of whom heard the whole thing, would not deal with the situation and actually point blank said they would not discuss it. I thought maybe time would heal things, but sometimes, people are stubborn, so after about a month of her not speaking to me, I wrote her a letter. I laid it out very clearly. She was making the work place a hostile environment. I didn’t need to threaten her, I just told her what a negative impact she had on other people. She calmed down a little, but sometimes you just have to read the writing on the wall. If no one was going to protect my back, then it was time to go. So I left. Sometimes, its better to play the temp for a while than to live in a miserable situation. But I think you have to make your concerns know to the management first. Try to correct the problem and if you can’t, then go. Funny ending to my story, the assistant to the surgeon lost it again, and handed her two week notice, but at that point the doctor told her just to leave now – no need to come back for two weeks. Karma!

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