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A sage hygienist’s advice to Gen Z

July 22, 2020
This generation values making a difference—and you will make a difference in dentistry! But before you enter the dental hygiene profession, here is what you should know.

As Gen Z is quickly entering the workforce, let me offer some advice as a sage Gen Y-er.

First, I want you to remember that you know stuff, no matter how any baby boomer might try and make you feel. You not only have an up-to-date scientific education, but you have an innate knowledge of technology. You were born with the internet! These things come naturally to you, while we in Gen Y look to you to show us how to use our phones or access all the features of the latest dental software. Be patient with us, as we will be patient with you when it comes to some of the interpersonal skills you might not have mastered while you were communicating on social media.

Just because you have an education, doesn’t mean you know all the stuff. There is so much you don’t learn in school or even in those first few jobs. Be open to learning from those before you.  Listen more than you speak. If you see someone you respect, ask them to mentor you and be ready to absorb what they have to say. Never stop learning and do it in person. Your generation has a tendency to find comfort behind a screen.  Do not underestimate the power of face-to-face networking.

You were born during a recession, so you are willing to work hard, and understand that if you don’t, there are others out there that will work harder. But don’t sell yourself short. Don’t work for wages that are below standard or accept the role of an independent contractor without checking the tax laws—you more than likely can’t be an independent contract no matter what someone tries to tell you. They are trying to take advantage of you. Stick up for yourself in a respectful way. You can search the internet for back up better than the rest of us, so do it.

 You were born into a world that embraces equality. Some in the generations before you still don’t understand or embrace all of it. Help us learn. Teach us through your example to not judge based on race, gender, ability or orientation. But sadly, not everyone will get it, and in the workplace you might just have to kill it with kindness because that 90-year-old patient is going to call you “honey” no matter what.

Your generation values making a difference. That’s probably why you entered the dental world. Don’t lose that. Volunteer at that free clinic and encourage your whole office to come with you.  Go on that mission trip and scour the internet for sponsors. Show the world that dental health is just as important as medical. This will feed your spirit and keep you excited about what a difference you and your Gen X counterparts will make on this world.

Amanda Hill, BSDH, RDH, has been in dentistry for over 25 years. She currently practices part-time clinically and is an industry educator for DentalPost.net. Recently she began sharing her passions by writing for dental companies and magazines, She is a member of the advisory board for RDH magazine and is hosting her very own podcast on the Dental Podcast Network!  Amanda is a proud RDH, Navy spouse, and mom of three, and is intent on spreading kindness wherever she goes.