How to travel the country as a dental hygienist
Interested in traveling as a dental hygienist? We talked to Kate Crouse of Team Placement Service about the company's unique travel program for RDHs.
An interview about Team Placement Service's unique travel program for dental hygienists
Dentistry has changed a great deal in the past 30 years—and so have dental hygienists. That's the observation of Betty Peebles, RDH, who founded Team Placement Service (TPS) in 1983. Peebles's company first began as a placement firm, but over the years she noticed that dental hygienists wanted more from their careers. They wanted greater challenges and more opportunities to grow their clinical skills. They also wanted additional opportunities outside their dental practices.
That's why Peebles created the first travel program for dental hygienists in the United States. Today, that program has served hundreds of dental hygienists who have the passion and willingness to invest in themselves and their careers.
We talked with Kate Crouse, director of Team Placement’s Dental Travel Program, to learn more about the company's unique concept. Here's what she had to say.
Participants in Team Placement's Dental Travel Program
Interview with Kate Crouse, director of Team Placement's Dental Travel Program
APEX: Tell us a little bit about Team Placement Service. When did it start?
CROUSE: Team Placement Service Inc. is a dental hygienist–owned placement firm located in Alexandria, Virginia. Betty Peebles, RDH, founded the firm more than 30 years ago after working 18 years as a clinical dental hygienist and five years as a department head in a dental assistant training program. Since that time, TPS has helped thousands of dental and medical professionals manage their careers.
Team placement founder Betty Peebles, RDH
Betty Peebles at her capping ceremony
APEX: How did the Dental Travel Program come about?
CROUSE: Thirteen years ago, TPS launched the first Dental Travel Program, modeled after travel nursing programs, designed exclusively for dental hygienists. Betty saw that hygienists—especially new and recent graduates—wanted to expand their clinical skills, knowledge, and confidence. Traveling and working in a new and exciting environment can provide all these things. We find that our traveling dental hygienists want to be the best they can be and stand out as true professionals.
APEX: Over the years you've refined the travel program. How does it work today?
CROUSE: Our program has grown each year, allowing more hygienists to take advantage of this unique opportunity. One of the best benefits is meeting other hygienists from all over the country. In fact, we have a large group of alumni members who are planning a get together this summer in Chicago!
We are currently getting applications from every state. Our travel hygienists enjoy the chance to live and explore their new areas with other hygienists in the program. To help facilitate this, we provide updates on local events as well as plan group activities that provide the hygienists a chance to meet each other. The hygienists choose the length of stay in our program. Most choose anywhere from a 4–12 month stay.
APEX: You've expanded the program over its 13-year history. Tell us more about that.
CROUSE: We have! Over the years, we've been able to expand our Travel Program to include additional states to allow more people to participate. Our current plan is to add two new cities each year. This way hygienists, at the end of their term, can choose to extend their stays in their current locations or move to new cities. New grads are welcome, as are experienced hygienists who enjoy finding new experiences in different cities as well as meeting and networking with new people.
APEX: What benefits do dental hygienists receive in taking this adventurous step?
CROUSE: There are many! Here are some of the most frequently cited:
· Personal growth
· Opportunity to expand clinical practice and gain confidence
· Free furnished housing with all utilities and maintenance provided
· Hands-on experience with a variety of doctors and patients
· Exposure to a wide variety of practices and management styles
· Experience with new dental technology, software, and techniques
· Network with hygienists from throughout the United States
· Local events and attractions
· Advice on local state licensing
APEX: Do any hygienists stay in the cities they travel to?
CROUSE: Yes—we see that happen often. There are permanent positions available, including ones in strong markets. Salaries in Washington, DC, for example, are some of the highest in the nation.
We were recently interviewed for the Thinking Beyond The Prophy podcast, and our discussion provides a wonderful overview of our Travel Program. We are episode 11, "Satisfy Your RDH Wanderlust."
APEX: Team Placement Service does even more than its travel program. Can you tell us about your placement and career services?
CROUSE: In many ways, we act as career coaches to our dental hygienists. Consider this: most people change positions a minimum of six times during their career, on average. It turns out that dental hygienists are no exceptions.
Change can be a stressful, anxious time in anyone’s life and no one should do it alone. Most professionals have an accountant, lawyer, or mentor they can go to for professional advice, but they also need a career coach for career decisions. We are committed to provide that service to all our candidates. We offer resume tips, interview prep, information on continuing education, and opportunities for both temporary, permanent, and government jobs in multiple cities.
APEX: Where do you place dental hygienists?
CROUSE: Our candidates include all positions in the dental and medical office environments. Our clients fall into four main categories:
- Dental practices
- Federal and state agencies
- Military facilities
- Nonprofit clinics and foundations
Each day, TPS's dental hygienists work all over the United States. They work in military bases, hospitals, public health clinics, the National Institute of Health Research Center, private practices, and corporate offices. We are pleased that there are many career options for our candidates to choose from!
APEX: Any final thoughts for dental hygienists looking for new career opportunities?
CROUSE: Many people are suddenly realizing that a career in public health dentistry is one of the most exciting new challenges. Dental disease is one of the top public health problems in the world, and that presents a challenge and makes public health one of the most exciting new frontiers to work in.
Hygienists all over the country are realizing that they are needed for their knowledge and skills in schools, in research, and in health clinics. Many are going back to school to get advanced degrees. Hygienists want to join the fight for equal access to care.
It’s an exciting time to be a dental hygienist!
Zachary Kulsrudis senior editor of PennWell's dental group. He serves as chief editor of Apex360 and managing editor ofDental Economics, while also managing the editorial group of DentistryIQ and Perio-Implant Advisory. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @dental_editor.
Editor's note: Dental news and press releases may be sent to Apex360 editors at email@example.com.