Everything may not be OK, but you can still fly high in your career

July 24, 2012
DAD Editor Kevin Henry discusses some of the latest findings from our recent survey about the best and worst states to be a dental assistant. He encourages assistants to be the best that they can be by focusing on what they can control.

This is the fifth year that Dental Assisting Digest has compiled its list of best and worst states for dental assistants. Every year, I tweak the categories that comprise our rankings to keep the list from getting stale (when the recession hit, I started looking more at the economic factors of each state, etc.). Every year, this is one of the more popular articles in DAD, and it always make me smile to find an article and topic that strikes a chord with readers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading DAD every month.

This year, when I tweaked the rankings, I saw my home state of Oklahoma take a dive in the overall rankings. Last year, the Sooner State was #19. This year, Oklahoma came it at #45. Ouch. Obviously not everything is OK in Oklahoma. Editor’s Note: Did you know that Oklahoma used to have on its license plate, “Oklahoma is OK.” Boy if that’s not a ringing endorsement for your state, I don’t know what it is. I’m stunned not everyone packed up and moved here after that. “Your state is OK? Wow, I’m moving!”

So why did Oklahoma take a dive? I took the state’s economy ranking out of this year’s rankings and replaced it with a category called “conducive to doing business in the state.” My logic was simple ... if business is doing well in your state, so are employees with incomes who visit the dental office, as well as businesses that provide dental insurance. If more businesses come into your state, so do more employees who can go to the dentist. With that change, Oklahoma’s #4 ranking in economy last year and #6 cost of doing business in the state (FYI, the economy is still more than OK here) was replaced with a #17 in the new category.

I also factored in overall health this year. With Oklahoma’s penchant for fried foods and high obesity rates (Coincidence? I think not.), my state ranked 48th out of 50 in the category. I’ve lived here my entire life, and I have to tell you that the low ranking in overall health doesn’t surprise me. I hope it improves very soon for the sake of my fellow Okies.

I tell you all of this not because I am bemoaning how far Oklahoma fell, but rather to remind you that there is more to having a good job than just being in the right practice. There are a lot of external factors that can determine the success of a practice, no matter how great the people are within it.

No, you can’t change everything about your state. No, you can’t change everything about your patients ... or their bosses ... or their businesses. What can you change? Only the things that you can control, so read the articles this month from my friends Tija Hunter on being the best assistant you can be and Lisa Newburger on doing your homework before asking for that raise.

No matter where you live (even if you’re my next-door neighbor), I believe it can be a great state for you to be a dental assistant. Here’s hoping this issue of DAD will keep you moving toward that goal and loving your career more every day.

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