Maximize Your Full Potential, Part II

May 29, 2009
At a crossroad in your dental hygiene career? The profession's classification about the roles of dental hygienist is opening up new opportunities.

by Susan Clark, RDH

Is being a dental hygienist in private practice all you had hoped it would be? Is your work day no longer challenging or rewarding? Are you over-worked, underpaid and unappreciated? If the answer to any of these questions was yes, then maybe you have come to a crossroad in your career. It may be time for either an attitude adjustment or a need to create a new role for you as a dental hygienist.

The American Dental Hygienists' Association's House of Delegates met in June 2007 and adopted an updated version of the six roles of the dental hygienist. The professional roles of the dental hygienists include, but are not limited to, those of clinician, educator, advocate, administrator/manager and researcher with public health. Or if you are lucky enough to live in California you may pursue a career as a dental hygienist in alternative practice. California licensed hygienists can practice independently and without the supervision of a licensed dentist upon completion of an approved RDHAP program. This has opened an exciting new career path and rewarding opportunity for hygienists helping residences of the homebound, schools, residential facilities and other institutions. Imagine, being your own boss; the possibilities are endless!

Earl Nightingale once said, "The key that unlocks energy is desire. It's also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited."

So get excited! Be passionate about your career choice and make a difference for you, your family and those people and patients you come in contact with each day. Ignite those flames of creativity to reward yourself a more empowering career? Step out of the box, take some risks. Expand your horizons, so you can begin to enjoy all our profession has to offer. Don't take the little things for granted, they might become your greatest rewards. The choice is yours to make, you just need to make it!

Taking responsibility for your happiness is a life-long journey; don't expect overnight results. Half the reward of success is the journey itself.

Don't settle to be ordinary. Explore ways to become extraordinary! Visualize your dreams, set goals, and follow your heart.

Susan Garcia Clark, RDH, is a native New Yorker, who has been residing in and honing her skills as a dental hygienist, in California for the past 27 years. She received an associate degree in Humanities from Rockland Community College in 1972, as well as becoming certified as a dental assistant during that period. Susan received her associate degree in Dental Hygiene from the University of New Mexico in 1981 and continued at Loma Linda University, to satisfy the requirements to be able to administer nitrous oxide, and local anesthesia and perform root planning and curettage in California. Susan is a member of the ADHA, the Crown Council of Dentistry, Temecula Inland Valley Dental Study Club, Tri County Dental Hygienists' Society, and the Liaison for the Student Members of the ADHA. In addition, she has been actively involved with numerous charities including, Smiles for Life, Team Mates for Kids and Kidsafe International. In November 2007, she wrote and self-published her first book, Exploring Dental Hygiene, Finding the Hidden Rewards. To purchase a copy please visit: