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I’m doing a project for school, do you mind answering these questions?

1. Why did you choose to be a dental hygienist? When did you decide this?
2. How do you feel about working with crying children? Older people? Handicapped people?
3. Please describe a typical day at work.
4. What do you like most about your job?
5. Is there anything about your profession that you don’t like?
6. How much training have you had, and do you feel it has been good training?
7. Would you work full time? Part time? Flexible hours?
8. What are your five year goals? Ten year goals?
9. What aspects of your last job did you like best? What did you like least?
10. Just coming out of school, how do you feel you would fit into our office?
11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a dentist/dental Hygienist?



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1 Answer

1. Why did you choose to be a dental hygienist? When did you decide this?
Since 8th grade I wanted to be a dental hygienist because my mom’s cousin (my second cousin) is a dentist, and had been my dentist since I was 7 years old. I had an exceptionally good experience at the dentist from a young age, which piqued my interest in dentistry initially. I found I was fascinated with biology (microbiology, to be specific), wanted my career to provide me with a sense of purpose (helping people in some way), and I was very efficient, hard-working, organized and paid attention to detail (qualities of a dental hygienist) so dental hygiene was a perfect fit.
 
2. How do you feel about working with crying children? Older people? Handicapped people?
Luckily, the hygiene program I attended equipped me with the knowledge to work with all kinds of people. I feel very comfortable working with crying children, geriatric patients, and handicapped people. Some of my favorite patients have been young children, older people, and handicapped people! Every patient deserves my best, no matter who they are. It all comes down to assessing the particular patient’s needs and doing my best from there.
 
3. Please describe a typical day at work.
This depends on which path you choose to take as a dental hygienist. There’s many more options besides working in private practice. Some dental hygienists work in public health, research, work with dental companies, become educators, write and speak, among so many other things. No matter which path you choose, no day is typical. If you work in private practice, all patients are different meaning you need to use your critical thinking to treat them best. You do go through the day to day infection control procedures, educating and treating patients, among other things, but you never know what will come at you so you must be prepared for it all.
 
Personally, I am no longer working in a private practice. I took a different path after working at several offices. As an Editorial Director of a dental hygiene publication and having a large social media presence, I spend much of my time helping other hygienists with their questions, researching for articles and questions from hygienists I receive, traveling to conferences and meeting with dental companies to help them with the hygiene community needs, and whatever else gets thrown my way.
 
4. What do you like most about your job?
As a clinical dental hygienist, I loved making my patients comfortable while treating and educating them on obtaining oral health. I made it my mission to ease dental anxiety and to educate on the importance of oral health and how it relates to overall health. This might age me, but the movie Patch Adams, with Robin Williams, is what I wanted to do for dentistry. Now, I find that while helping 8 patients per day while working clinically was awesome, helping thousands of dental hygienists best treat the 8 (or so) patients per day to the best of their ability extremely important and very fulfilling. I wouldn’t change it for the world!
 
5. Is there anything about your profession that you don’t like?
Being a dental hygienist isn’t always easy. It can be hard on your body and frustrating when you can’t break through to patients. As with any healthcare career, some employers aren’t on the same page with your ethics and morals when it comes to patient care over the almighty dollar. It’s very important to find an office that shares your same patient care standard to make your job enjoyable when working in private practice.
 
6. How much training have you had, and do you feel it has been good training?
I attended college and obtained a degree and went on to obtain my dental hygiene degree and licensure. I am certified in nitrous oxide and anesthesia. I’m in Oregon, so we also have an expanded practice permit that I plan on applying for very soon. To keep my licensure current, I also take continuing education courses to stay current in the latest protocols. As time permits, I plan on furthering my education to obtain further degrees. I feel my dental hygiene training from the school I attended was second to none. I couldn’t have asked for better instructors. Not going to lie, it was hard, but everything my instructors put me through made me the clinician, professional, and person I am today. I am beyond grateful!
 
7. Would you work full time? Part time? Flexible hours?
Working clinically, I found that that part-time was best for me. I had worked full-time, sometimes 10-12 hour days early in my career and found that it took a toll on me not only physically, but mentally. Three days per week working clinically was my happy place. Now that I’m on a different path, I work far more than full time. Can’t say I’ve had a day off in the last 3 years, but again, I wouldn’t change it for the world! That is the beauty of dental hygiene; it’s very family friendly, unlike nursing for example, where you have to work long hours and weird hours.
 
8. What are your five year goals? Ten year goals?
My five year and ten year goals are probably different from most dental hygienists because of the path I took. Being in a progressive state like Oregon, I see laws being changed in the future allowing a dental hygienist to own their own practice. I would love to do this. Beyond that, I see speaking more and teaching CEs in my very near future. With this day in age with social media, I see what I do changing as the trends change. If a door of opportunity opens, I will not be afraid to walk through it. Especially if it can move the dental hygiene profession forward.
 
9. What aspects of your last job did you like best? What did you like least?
In my last clinical job, I loved my doctor, the assistants and the patients so very much. However, I found some fighting over power with the front office staff. My focus was the patients, so the issues with management, I could have done without.
 
10. Just coming out of school, how do you feel you would fit into our office?
Coming out of school, I was terrified! I learned that it simply takes time to assimilate into the “real world.” You cannot ever stop learning and you must be patient with yourself. You may not know all the answers, however hygiene school taught you how to find the answers, you cannot ever forget that skill!
 
11. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a dentist/dental Hygienist?
If dentistry and especially the science and benefit behind prevention is up your alley, dental hygiene is a great career. As long as you do your research and are aware of some of the problems such as the over-saturation in the job market and the problems with job conditions due to dentists abusing this over-saturation, you should shoot for your dreams. It may take some effort to find a job, especially a “forever office” that shares your same patient care standard, but if it’s what you want to do, it’s worth it. I wrote an article about what I wished I could have told myself during hygiene school, here’s the link: http://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-35/issue-11/content/reflecting-on-hygiene-school.html
Be prepared that hygiene school isn’t easy. It takes someone with a true passion to be successful. When there’s a will, there’s a way, so if you want it, don’t hesitate or be afraid to go get it!

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