If you’re an RDH—or still thinking about becoming a dental hygienist—you’ve got a fairly flexible career ahead of you. From traditional roles to outside-the-box job opportunities, today’s dental hygienist has more options than ever when it comes to finding a fulfilling career.
Every dental hygienist is trained for clinical hygiene. We know how to physically see and care for patients while using specific techniques to manage their oral health. But how you go about finding a clinical dental hygienist job can follow a variety of different paths:
In a private practice, you have a bit more flexibility in regard to appointment times and typical protocols, depending on the dentist that you’re working for. Private practices and specialty offices are different from one to the next, so finding one that meshes with you and your goals is a great way to make sure your career is fulfilling.
Looking for more long-term benefits, such as retirement, vacation pay, and similar perks? A corporate dental practice might be your best option. While some private practices do offer hygiene benefits, most corporately-owned offices provide them for all of their employees.
Do you want to work in a practice 40 hours a week? No problem! Finding a full time dental hygienist job is easier today than it used to be in the past, when a lot of hygienists only worked part time. But part time jobs are still easy to come by. If you only want to work 1, 2, or 3 days a week, you can choose to do that. Or maybe you don’t like the idea of being tied down and you want to mix it up—or just work extra before the holidays—you can do that too, if you want to be a temp hygienist. Temping can happen through an agency or just by word of mouth when you fill in for friends who are out on vacation and maternity leave. Temping and part-time work is great if you have other side hustles, such as teaching, managing social media, etc.
Think traditional dental offices are your only option? Nope! Depending on where you live and your state’s regulations, you might be able to work in a mobile clinic that drives to schools, in a nursing home, hospital, or even a prison.
One of the best ways to find non-clinical hygiene jobs is to network with people in the dental industry. Start by attending local, state, and national meetings and conventions to get to know what’s out there and who the people are.
Here are just a few ideas for non-clinical hygiene jobs:
If you love hygiene so much that you want to help other people become hygienists, then teaching is a great idea. Most adjunct clinical instructors (the ones who check the students) need a license and a set number of years of experience. On the other hand, lecture jobs and classroom instructors typically call for a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and/or master’s degree.
From working in clinical labs and forensics to conducting peer-reviews on scientific dental articles, your knowledge and unique background as a dental hygienist provide a number of opportunities outside of clinical hygiene. Maybe you work with product manufacturers to conduct research studies on periodontal disease or write for a major dental hygiene publication. Hygiene researchers are on the front end of information.
Who else is there better to sell dental products than someone who has used them in person? Sales roles can take a traditional approach or one that’s more based upon continuing education (those people who conduct your office “lunch and learn” have to come from somewhere!)
Do you rock at managing social media accounts? Are you an influencer or writer? Information is power, so getting your knowledge out there to a large base could help you work with marketing teams or even a couple of private practices to manage their online presence. If you’re interested in writing, be sure to check out my Community Writers Program.
Whether it’s a new scaler, ergonomic tool, or simply a patient education brand, or even a tooth purse! (yes, I did that! Check out happyteeth here!). Some of us are natural entrepreneurs. Shifting into owning and building your own business can be scary, but fulfilling.
Usually people who are public speakers don’t start out that way. They simply speak about what it is they do and tell other people how to do it. So, as you find your way into speaking, you’ll want to have something you’re good at and then network your way into the speaking circuit. It’s usually a matter of who you know.
If you’re feeling unfulfilled by your dental hygienist career, it might not be the career at all. It may just be the atmosphere you’re working in and the team you’re with. When it’s time for a change, consider one of the above-mentioned opportunities!
Here are some ways to explore new career options and hygienist-owned companies!
▶Community Writing Program: https://teethtalkgirl.com/dental-community-writers
▶Happy Teeth: http://www.givehappyteeth.com
▶Today’s RDH: https://www.todaysrdh.com/
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