A new hygienist’s response to the recent salary survey: Get connected with the ADHA

It’s important to be familiar with current trends of our field, but they shouldn’t be the gospel that determines your personal employment destiny.

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By Trish De Dios
September 26, 2013

Graduates Ladder BorderMany RDHs are frustrated by recent conditions affecting the dental hygiene profession. The frustration is fueled by cutbacks in clinical hours, a flooded job market, and reduced pay rates. Mark Hartley, editor of RDH magazine, recently wrote an eye-opening article highlighting recent statistics in our job market. As a new grad, you may find your spirits a bit deflated when you hear dental hygiene has seen better days as far as clinical employment prospects. It’s important to be familiar with current trends of our field, but they shouldn’t be the gospel that determines your personal employment destiny.

Job benefits for dental hygienists: Part 2

Re-evaluate what you want
Being aware of what’s going on out there in the working world can help you seek and apply for work in a more “targeted” manner. Stats say employers are seeking “long term, part-time” employees? Well, even though it was not your first choice to be part-time, tailor your resume to exactly what they want because yours will go to the top when everyone else indicated their full-time desire. The climate of private practice changes too, and with your foot already in the door with part-time hours, you have a greater chance of getting that sweet 40 hours – eventually. Also, you always have the option to keep applying for positions while in your current role.

Think outside the clinical box
With many hygienists concerned about the security of their work in private practice, non-clinical positions are more desirable than ever. Coupling a non-clinical position to supplement clinical roles is growing in popularity. Work on developing those transferrable skills that make you a hot commodity RDH for roles outside of private practice. Marketing background? Event coordinating? Finance buff? There is a need for these skill sets in the dental field, whether it is clinical or corporate. The RDH must stay marketable, employable, and valuable. Regardless of the economic forecast for the hygiene field, forward thinking and a proactive approach are critical in an increasingly evolving job market. Do not forget about the organized communities of dental hygienists who can relate and are sharing these experiences with you.

Future-proof your career
The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) is your professional association that provides its members with an abundance of support and resources to keep your career moving forward. The ADHA has your best interests in mind. You can see from their recently published strategic plan for the next decade that they are the prepared for the various factors that can affect the future of our organization and profession. Stay connected to your profession through your local dental hygiene component. You will need them at some point – and they need you! As a hygienist that wants to see our profession move forward, and as a clinician that wants my work to be recognized and supported by the healthcare field, how can I notinvest in the only association whose mission is to represent and promote the interests of hygienists? One of my favorite workshops I have ever attended was put on by the ADHA; it was called “Dental Hygiene in a Changing World.” The ADHA knows what its members are concerned about and what its members are asking. It is my best advice to you, the young grad, as you begin your professional journey, to not embark without the safety net of your ADHA membership. In the midst of the daily grind, it can be difficult to keep sight of long-term career goals. Keep advocacy and support for the profession in mind and you will be prepared for any direction you are lead to go as your career changes and develops.

De Dios AuthorTrish De Dios, RDH, graduated as president of her dental hygiene class in 2008. She currently works full-time clinically and is also a regional coordinator for The Oral Cancer Foundation. She can be contacted at hygienist.trish@gmail.com.

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