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5 ways to stay focused on your goal of becoming a dental hygienist

April 22, 2020
The new normal in the era of the pandemic creates challenges for dental hygiene students to achieve their goals. Megen Elliott gives five tips to stay focused.

These unpredictable times have shaken up our day-to-day lives, and it is easy to lose focus and motivation. Here are a few tips to help you maintain focus on your goal of becoming a dental hygienist!

Establish routine

Many successful people say their ability to maintain routine, no matter the circumstances, is what helps them stay the course. One example of maintaining routine is waking up at the same time every day. If you continue to wake up, get dressed, and start your day as you have been doing in the past, you are more likely to be motivated and feel equipped to be productive. When asked how you spend your time each day, are you able to report how much time you focused on each of your daily goals or tasks? One best practice is to plan out each hour (or minutes) of your day to maximize your time. If you find yourself endlessly scrolling through social media, or binge watching the trending show on TV, and then scrambling to complete schoolwork or to meet other deadlines, you may benefit from creating a daily schedule. 

Keep your passion alive; dive deeper

Why did you decide to enter the dental field in the first place? What areas of the dental field are you passionate about? Still looking for these answers? Now is your chance! Depending on your academic program, you may be very busy, or you may be winding down. You may find yourself tuning in for a few hours per day of live lecture, but then find yourself trying to keep busy. Though this looks different for everyone, it is important to stay focused on your new profession.

You can take advantage of countless continuing education opportunities, webinars, and even live IG streams. Some of these activities may open your eyes to areas of your new profession that you may not have known existed! A simple search on any social media channel can help you find these opportunities. Another tip is to reach out to companies to learn more about products and opportunities or perhaps get involved with companies in a more formal way. Many companies are looking for the opinions of students and will brainstorm with students through ambassador programs and new product launches. Bottom line: keep learning, keep exploring!

Stay connected 

Find inspiration by watching the journeys of others. Surround yourself with online communities of dental professionals and students that will lift you higher. There are communities online that allow the dental industry to connect, share successes, failures, and common interests. Explore those opportunities.

Challenge yourself to reach out to dental professionals in your area, to learn more about them and to connect. The dental industry is a small world when you take the time to make connections. We have the ability to connect with individuals around the country and around the world. If nothing else, spend some time creating or updating your LinkedIn profile.

Focus on the positive

Though many of you are still moving right along with schoolwork and family life, if you are planning your day, you may realize you have more time than you expected. Perhaps you are saving time by eliminating your commute and you are able to spend more time with your family and organize some things at home.

Maintain a growth mindset and a can-do attitude, embrace challenges, show poise and the ability to be flexible and adapt. Opportunities often come through simply having the right attitude.

Create goals

You may have time to focus on your goals as a student and as a future dental professional. Take time to plan your future. Create a professional development plan, listing your goals for your education, in your current program and perhaps beyond, as well as your goals for your career, perhaps chairside or beyond ... wherever your passion lies.

Write your goals down. Putting them on paper is the first step in holding yourself accountable for achieving them. Next, let others know your hopes and dreams for the future; this may lead to connections and opportunities you never expected. Got goals? Share them! 

As you find yourself adapting to and facing a new set of challenges, and balancing a new normal, take time to slow down and enjoy the ability to spend time in new areas of your life. Maintaining focus on your end goal is vital; visualize yourself on graduation day or looking up at your dental hygiene license hanging on the wall of your new operatory. For some, that is a few short months away. For others, it may be years, but if you maintain progress and focus, you will continue on your path to success!

Megen Elliott, MS-OCL, RDH, CDA, has 12 years of experience in the dental field. She finds joy in inspiring others to grow and reach their full potential. As an educator, interprofessional speaker, volunteer leader, and podcast host, Megen is able to explore many areas of the dental industry. Additionally, she facilitates multiple Facebook communities, including Hygiene Happy Vibes and Dogs of Dentistry. She serves as manager of recruitment and success with the oral care company, Twice. Megen enjoys connecting with dental professionals both online and while attending dental conferences around the country. She hopes you will to reach out to connect on Instagram: @yourdentalfriendmegen or [email protected], as she always welcomes new friends!