One of the things they don’t teach you in dental hygiene school is how to be confident at work. Now that you’ve proven you have all of the skills of a dental hygienist, it’s time to put them into action. But can you do it?! What do you say when the patient asks how long you’ve been working there?
Look. You’ve graduated from dental hygiene school. You’ve passed all of your board exams. You have a license and now you have a job. You are 100% qualified to be a dental hygienist, no matter how you feel or what anyone tells you. However, it’s easy to doubt yourself in the beginning.
Whether it’s day one out of school or you’re joining a new practice, here are some steps to help strengthen your skills as a hygienist:
Set your room up before the patient comes back. Be sure to have everything out that you need and preferably already put together. Like your XCPs or ultrasonic. The last thing you want is for something to not work after you already have the patient in your chair. That way your appointment flows smoothly and stress-free.
Check every chart at the beginning of the day and make notes of who needs X-rays, perio charting, sealants, or has unscheduled dental treatment. It will save you time and prevent you from forgetting anything important. You can be confident at work knowing you’re checking off everything on each patient’s to-do list.
Not sure how to present treatments to your patients or explain things in certain ways? Take some tips from your fellow dental colleagues. Absorb their phrases to get your conversations flowing more smoothly. A lot of what I’ve learned has come straight from the mouths of my peers in the room next to me. They’ve done this for a while, so it’s natural to come smoothly for them.
Is your patient skeptical because you’re the new hygienist or look really young compared to everybody else? Talk through what you’re doing to show you know your stuff. Not only will it help impress your patient and make them realize you know what you’re talking about, but it will also provide you with some self-assurance.
Improv classes aren’t just for aspiring comedians. They can help anyone learn how to communicate better in their personal and professional life. Most importantly, they teach you how to talk with confidence and use your butterflies to fuel your performance. I mean, conversation.
The next time a patient asks you how long you’ve been in that position, tell them something like “I’m new to this office, but I’ve been in the dental industry for ___.” Just fill in the blank with however much time is appropriate, whether it’s your two years in hygiene school or if you were an assistant before then (they don’t need to know—after all, you have a license!)
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