6 qualities a dentist looks for in a dental hygienist
As you delve into the process of finding the practice that will allow you to shine and be your best selves, remember that you also need to become an attribute to the team. Here are qualities that will allow you to be successful on your professional journey.
Now that you have completed your program, you can step forward into your profession and reap the rewards by saving lives through your care and educating patients about the effects of optimal oral-systemic health. As you delve into the process of finding the practice that will allow you to shine and be your best selves, remember that you also need to become an attribute to the team. Here are qualities that will allow you to be successful on your professional journey.
1. Approach your life’s work as a professional
A dental hygienist is a crucial part of the dental team. Being a state-licensed professional solidifies your responsibility as you care for patients. Present to your office each day with the attitude that it’s not “just a job.” This often involves coming in early, staying late, completing tasks that aren’t listed on your job description, and striving to be a team player. Remember how hard you worked to complete your program and the lives of your patients are in your hands.
2. Always be “the student”
Graduating from a professional program is a huge accomplishment. Do not be fooled by the idea that your knowledge base can stay stagnant. Once you get your feet on the ground at your new dental office, it would be advantageous to set “smart goals” concerning your future education.1 The best providers are those that continuously are learners. Learning new knowledge provides a new perspective and passion.
3. Have a positive attitude
Present each day and to each patient as your best self. Attitude is a reflection of your whole being. This is not to say that your life is without struggles. We are all presented with challenges. It is those that take control of their lives and don’t let the struggles control them that will achieve success and keep on their own continuums of personal wellness. Breathing exercises can help to reset your mind before meeting each patient.2
4. Be a team player
Michael Jordan, the world-renowned NBA player never achieved the pinnacle as a world champion until he recognized the value of “the team.” He always excelled as an athlete but couldn’t quite reach the top until he embraced this concept. When the team wins, you win.
5. Be a good listener
"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk."—Doug Larson
There is an art and a science to developing an individualized treatment plan that speaks to a patient’s driving forces in decision making. Each patient in your chair is an individual with specific needs and a unique perspective of what drives them to have a happy life. Listening will allow you to derive what drives them to make life’s decisions, even concerning their health. Dentists know that a successful dental hygienist is one that understands this and has these critical skills.
Editor’s note from Amber Auger, MPH, RDH: We must not forget we have the ability to choose. Often by shifting our mindset to one of gratitude, we can find fulfillment in situations that are not perfect. We cannot control what happens around us, but we can control how we react to the situation. I encourage you to have moments throughout the day where you check in on how you are feeling, this awareness can change the way we view every situation.
1. Smart People. SMART goals worksheet. Available at:www.sparkpeople.com/resource/SMARTgoalsWS-NN.pdf. Accessed January 1, 2019.
2. The Way of Mediation. The Art of Breathing. Available at: https://www.thewayofmeditation.com.au/blog/the-art-of-breathing. Accessed January 1, 2019.
Susan Mazzei, DDS, is a prosthodontist in Naperville, Illinois, practicing dentistry as an oral-systemic specialist focusing on re-defining the boundaries of optimal health. She graduated from Northwestern University Dental School and then completed her specialty training as a prosthodontist. She was a full-time clinical assistant professor at Northwestern University Dental School for twelve years while caring for her patients in private practice. Her passion is to be an advocate for those that want to be active participants in their own health and wellness. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org