Ideas to Inspiration: A job vs. your dental hygiene career

April 20, 2017
Jackie Sanders, RDH, explains how to explore dental hygiene career options to newer members of the profession in her Ideas to Inspiration column.   

By Jackie Sanders, RDH, MBA

Many of us graduate seeking the ‘dream job,” looking forward to the opportunity of treating patients and using the skills and knowledge we worked so hard to acquire. Some will live the dream while others will become disappointed and begin to question their choices. The frustration can become daunting, causing pessimism and doubt. This month, I hope to provide you with optimism and avenues of direction.

Many dental hygienists are embracing the changes coming to the dental hygiene industry. State’s bylaws are changing, opening new parameters for patient care, and the skill set of the RDH is being recognized by other industries for offering new possibilities, including, of course, the ever-popular hope of the advanced practitioner in all states.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Sara Paone, RDH, RNCP. Sara has taken her love for clinical care and wrapped nutrition, DNA testing, and microbe testing into her treatment plan. She treats her patients with a whole-body approach, taking the oral systemic link into consideration. She has taken what some have reported as “a routine task” to a level that many haven’t even considered. I can feel some rolling their eyes right now, because their doctor would never agree to such a thought. Hear me out! I want to take a moment to inspire some of you about other options.


Previously published Ideas to Inspiration columns


For those who are totally baffled and feeling lost, let’s start with connecting to fellow RDHs who are walking a similar path. I have been watching social media lately, and I see an inspiring support system blooming. It is helping many individuals find their next step, think about options they never considered, and have a social network that is supportive. By reading and hearing what fellow hygienists are struggling with or what answers they have found, you may be inspired with your own line of ideas. Connect on Facebook with, Dental Hygiene Network, Dental Hygiene Life, and the ever popular Trapped in an OP. On each site, you will find answers, motivation, encouragement, and those willing to mentor you through the process.

Are you in need of energy and vitality? Start thinking about attending RDH Under One Roof in Chicago on August 10-12.

You are your own business entity, and there are options to assist you with developing a plan of action. Numerous books offer tips on career transition, evaluating your emotional intelligence, and finding your passion. Career transition requires time, commitment to yourself, and much soul searching. The change doesn’t have to come tomorrow and starting the process hopefully begins as soon as you finish reading this article.

A job is a specific task done as part of a routine. A career is a profession requiring special training with opportunities to progress. Your choice is to decide if you want a job, or are ready to start your career. Which way are you going?

My email is open to you for comments, questions, or career support. Enjoy the journey; it is fun if you make it so.

Jackie Sanders is Manager of Professional Relations & Communications for SUNSTAR. She serves as a liaison responsible for communications with professional and industry associations, educational institutions and the dental professional community. She is a recognized and active opinion leader within the dental hygiene community and associated social networking programs. She serves on the ADEA Legislative Advisory Council, is a member of ADHA IOH Advisory Committee, and serves on several Editorial Advisory Boards.

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