What is a Travel RDH All About?

What is a Travel RDH All About?

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
What is a Travel RDH All About?

Maybe you’ve heard about travel RNs, but have you ever heard of a travel RDH? As a dental hygienist, you have a lot of options when it comes to employment opportunities. One of those is to work with a placement company or dental hygienist temp agency to work in new areas. As a travel RDH, you can enjoy working in areas of your state or other parts of the country. If you love to travel and you’re up for an adventure, this dental hygienist career is a perfect pick.

What Is A Traveling Dental Hygienist? 

A travel RDH is a hygienist who works temporarily or long-term in other areas than where they live currently. Depending on how far you want to travel, this could be in the same state as where you live now, or on the completely other side of the country.

As a travel dental hygienist, you can work in various types of settings, from research labs to private practice to government-run clinics.

You’re probably asking yourself, “But where am I going to live?” Great question! Depending on the dental hygienist temp agency that you use, you have a few different options:

  • Live in provided corporate housing (like a travel RN)
  • Work within a certain radius of your current home
  • Van life it up in state parks
  • Get a short-term apartment rental or Airbnb/Vrbo to explore new areas
  • Move in with family or friends for the length of your contract

Most travel hygienists are only going to work for a limited amount of time unless they’re specifically trying to nail down long-term, permanent employment. Be sure to communicate with your placement agency to land the perfect RDH role for what you’re looking for.

Why Are Travel Or Temp RDHs Needed?

Right now, there’s a nationwide shortage of dental hygienists. We lost thousands of RDHs during the COVID-19 pandemic and not all of them went back to work after the shutdown. Yes, the so-called “Great Resignation” has hit dentistry pretty hard.

But travel RDH jobs are nothing new. Here are just some of the reasons why a dentist or dental organization may want to have a dental hygienist temp agency send someone to fill in:

  • New dental facilities opening
  • Current hygienists going on long-term leave
  • Short-term needs at government clinics or other public organizations
  • Offices that are considering expansion

And then, there are shorter-term temping jobs that allow you to:

  • Pick up a few days of work when you want to go on longer, extended trips
  • Fill in for other hygienists when they’re on vacation, maternity leave, or out sick
  • Consider a cross-country move and wanting to explore the culture in that area
  • Freedom to enjoy new things and meet new people
  • Explore other areas of the dental field that you’ve never worked in before
  • Expand your resume and clinical experience

Picking The Right Program

Anyone who is thinking about temping as a hygienist or traveling for their RDH career will need to be sure to plan accordingly. Since most RDH licenses are not transferrable across state lines, you can either work in your current state or partner with a temp agency that helps you achieve inter-state licensure for placement purposes.

Do you want to be close to your current home, or do you want to try working somewhere in another state? Depending on which one, you’ll either want to work with a traditional placement agency or one that’s nationwide. National agencies are more likely to offer some type of corporate housing.

Some temp agencies can only place hygienists in specific metropolitan areas, while others allow you to connect with offices anywhere in the country. Depending on the one you choose, you will either pick up temp jobs as they come available, or the platform serves as a match-making service for you and the dental facility to pair up with one another through an online screening process.

Traditional Job Placement And Temp Agencies

In the “old days”, being a dental temp meant having your paperwork on file with a placement agency and them calling you that morning (or even a few days before) if a local office needed someone to fill in. Although a lot of people have shifted to apps and online networks, traditional temp agencies are still around and thriving.

When it comes to travel RDH jobs across state lines, national-based temp agencies will help you coordinate the paperwork you need for licensure and even provide corporate housing in some cases. Every agency is different, so just be sure to read the fine print and talk to them about when, where, and how they place hygienists into work openings.

Apps And Website Platforms (Airbnb Style)

If you prefer to be in control of when and where you work, you may want to consider creating a profile with a placement app, such as onDiem or something similar. These digital networks allow hygienists to set their own pay rates, availability, and locations. So, if you want to work in Houston one week and Dallas the next, you can totally do that. Dental temp apps are like digital dating services. You get to scroll through and see what’s available, and dental offices can do the same when it comes to finding a temp. A lot of people like these platforms because it takes the surprise out of who they’re going to be working with.

Who Is A Good Fit For A Traveling RDH?

As you might guess, being a travel RDH is probably best for independent professionals who don’t have family members back home that they’re caring for. If you’re single or up for an adventure, becoming a travel RDH is a great new way to throw some excitement into your career without changing your role altogether.

Another time that being a travel RDH would work is if your partner works from home. That way they can take their job with you and you can go anywhere, as long as there’s a good internet connection.

If you’re empty nesters and like to travel, temping as an RDH is a great way to get out and see the world. Especially if your partner can work remotely. Stay in corporate housing or surf Airbnb!

Travel RDHs probably need to be what you’d think of as “adventurous” or “occasionally sporadic.” Since you’ll need to learn your way around new towns and meet new people, being extroverted doesn’t hurt, either. But you know us hygienists—most of us could talk to a brick wall for an hour!

Travel Dental Hygienist Recap

If you love to travel, are feeling hygiene burnout kicking in, or want to try something new, consider becoming a travel RDH. Options range from temping nearby to living in corporate housing and being a hygienist somewhere completely across the country. Short-term gigs can even lead to long-term careers if that’s what you’re looking for. Traveling hygienists get to enjoy their careers while experiencing new places, so it’s a great opportunity for anyone with an adventurous side. And if you’re worried about going too far from home, there are nearby travel placements as well, as long as you don’t mind the drive.

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Last updated onSeptember 22, 2023Here is our process

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