A creative way to work in dentistry before you have your license

Here’s an idea! Start working before you even get your license!

Xylitol Cookies

By Trish De Dios, RDH
August 22, 2013

Xylitol Cookies

Here’s an idea: start working before you even get your license!

No, I am not encouraging you to provide dental hygiene treatment illegally. I am telling you to take advantage of the skills you can apply without a license: instrument sharpening, for instance. Before the eye rolling begins, hear me out.

Hygienists strongly believe there are too many dental hygiene schools, too few jobs

If you are a second-year student or a new graduate, I bet you are an expert when it comes to the design of an instrument’s terminal shank, cutting edge, and overall design. Not only that, but you are well trained to maintain the integrity of that cutting edge with diligent sharpening techniques. Well, there ya go! You have a business to begin. Now all you need is a business card, flyer, or e-mail address. Read on if you want to partake in this part-time, practical side job.

Did you know that companies like Hu-Friedy and Nordent offer professional sharpening services for dental offices? Don’t for a second doubt you can provide an office with a sharpening service while you await your license. Woe was me in dental hygiene school when I found it incredibly difficult to work a part-time job.

Can I work part-time as an assistant and part-time as a hygienist at the same time?

Determined to make extra cash, I decided I would start offering instrument sharpening for local dental practices. I created a little flyer and advertised my rate of $3.50 per instrument. I made my rounds to local dental offices in my neighborhood, dropping off a flyer and small batch of baked cookies sweetened with xylitol. I figured bringing the cookies lessened the blow of rejection, and it did – I was rejected left and right. But with persistence, perseverance, and enthusiasm for what I had to offer, I kept doing my rounds. I actually loved talking about the cookies and xylitol so much that I didn’t really mind any naysayers to my sharpening. The cookies helped break the ice when talking to the front desk manager, and a handful of times I was asked to send them my resume as soon as I graduated! (Hint: You are meeting potential employers!)

The spring and summer of 2008, I ended up sharpening for eight offices. I would pick the instruments up and deliver them in a similar basket the cookies came in. I was leaving my trademark with hand delivered instruments presented in a small basket with a purple bow tied to it. To this day, I still sharpen instruments for two of those offices. Below is what my flyer looked like. (Proceed with caution: this is my early work.)

Trish Flyer

The world of sharpening and instruments has changed, so advertise your strengths! Do you wear 2.5x magnification loupes? A head light? Are you well-versed on various stones for various sharpening needs? Do you incorporate a hand piece and bur into your sharpening? Create a flyer that shows you know your stuff. Go get ‘em, rockstar!

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 and a product educator for Water Pik. She can be contacted at hygienist.trish@gmail.com.

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