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Dental consulting a career option for the hygienist

Dec. 15, 2011
Stacy McCauley, RDH, MS, and Rachel Wall, RDH, BS, began their professional careers in dental hygiene but now work in the specialty niche of dental consulting. Each discusses her respective story about the change in career emphasis.
By Stacy McCauley, RDH, MS, and Rachel Wall, RDH, BS
In 1991, a young woman graduated with her associate’s degree in dental hygiene from Guilford Technical Community College in tiny Jamestown, N.C. Two years later, a young woman in rural Michigan graduated with her associate’s degree in dental hygiene from Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Mich. Both walked across the stage to receive their diplomas with the idea that their career in dental hygiene meant a lifetime of happily working full time in private practice. And, off to private practice they both went. Fast-forward almost 20 years, how are they now working in the exciting specialty niche of dental consulting? Here is the story of Rachel Wall, Founder of Inspired Hygiene, Inc., and Stacy McCauley, Inspired Hygiene’s Lead Hygiene Productivity Coach. Stacy’s story: I loved working in private practice, and was fortunate to have a boss who always encouraged me to grow my skills. Knowing that my employer was less than 10 years from retirement, I started taking classes at night and on weekends to finish my BS degree. I started thinking about pursuing a career in academics after he retired. I eventually moved to North Carolina to begin graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This is when I first met Rachel. She was working as a hygienist and researcher at the dental school.After earning my MS degree, I was appointed as a full-time dental hygiene clinical assistant professor. It was a great opportunity, and I learned a tremendous amount about adult learning. After a few years in full-time academics, opportunity knocked and I accepted a position as a Professional Educator with Philips Sonicare. I traveled all across the U.S. presenting school-based seminars and continuing education (CE) for Philips Sonicare. I overcame my fear of public speaking very quickly, and loved the hustle and bustle of being a “road warrior.” Almost nine years later, opportunity knocked again when I reconnected with Rachel. I’m now the lead hygiene productivity coach with Inspired Hygiene, Inc. In addition to speaking and writing, I’m back teaching part-time at the University of North Carolina. My new full-time career is with Rachel and Inspired Hygiene, Inc. I coach clients both virtually and in-office on how to increase their hygiene services, systems, and profits. There is nothing more gratifying than working with doctors and their teams to facilitate positive change and practice growth.
Rachel’s story: My story begins 20 years ago as a clinical hygienist in a small practice. I then transitioned into a clinical dental hygiene position in a large, progressive, private dental practice. I eventually moved into dental research and clinical hygiene at my second alma mater, the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. It was during my time working at UNC that I met Stacy. We became friends and in 1999 I had an experience that changed the course of my life and career. That experience is the real reason I became a hygiene coach, speaker, and writer. After what I like to call my "seven-year ditch," another one of my friends saw me on the verge of leaving dental hygiene. She was facing the last few months of her life, and she saw that I was not making the most of my healthy, happy life as a twenty-something. She asked me to take a good, honest look at the career and personal growth opportunities available to me as a hygienist. She knew I had blinders on and couldn’t see what was out there, right in front of me. I made her a promise that I would do just that. I had no idea I’d end up where I am today. I started studying everything I could get my hands on about advanced hygiene duties, the perio/systemic link, the business of hygiene, and personal development. I started really engaging the doctors I worked with to teach me about dentistry and their treatment philosophy. It opened my eyes to so much learning and growing that was there for me to grasp. I began working as a trainer for a practice management coach and I loved it! That was the beginning, and 10 years later, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I still remain active as a clinical hygienist, and that is still a part of my core values as a hygiene coach and speaker. I see so clearly the impact dental hygienists can make in our patients’ lives, much past the dental chair. I am continually studying and refining the systems that must be in place to build a productive hygiene team that is grounded in high quality care. I have made a commitment to dedicate the rest of my professional life to helping dentists, hygienists, and entire teams recognize their power to positively impact their own careers, their patients’ well-being, and to reap financial rewards as a result of delivering high-quality care. Since then, we at Inspired Hygiene have personally coached hundreds of dental professionals all across the country in our private and virtual coaching programs, spoken in front of countless groups, and have created The Hygiene Profits System--a series of 10 important practice-building steps every dental team needs to apply to elevate their hygiene services, systems, and profits.
Be sure to check out the Inspired Hygiene website at to read more about what they do.
Stacy McCauley, RDH, MS, (left) has 18 years of experience in dentistry. She has worked in private practice, dental hygiene education, the corporate dental industry, and as a hygiene productivity coach. She is currently a lead hygiene productivity coach with Inspired Hygiene, Inc. and is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. Contact Stacy at [email protected]. As Founder of Inspired Hygiene, Rachel Wall, RDH, BS, (above right) partners with dentists, hygienists, and office managers to elevate their hygiene services, systems and profits. She can be reached at [email protected].