Before joining Aspen Dental in 2011, I started my career as an orthodontic dental assistant in a private practice. The experience paved the way for me to enroll in a local dental hygiene program. I balanced school, work, and raising my son, and in the process it became clear to me what I needed in an employer.
After graduation, I looked for an opportunity that offered full benefits, guaranteed hourly wages, digital technology, and continuous development of my professional skills. I was able to find all these things, as well as a solid career path, at Aspen Dental. I quickly learned the value Aspen Dental places on hygienists, which is evident through the extensive onboarding, training, and development opportunities offered to all hygienists.
As Bob Fontana, CEO and Chairman of Aspen Group, says, “The best investments we make are investments in our people.”
As we commemorate National Dental Hygiene Month and the vital contributions dental hygienists make to patient health every day, here are some of the benefits that have made me feel most appreciated and empowered throughout my career.
Comprehensive onboarding supports a healthy career
From their first day at Aspen, new hygienists are supported through an extensive onboarding process, a blended program that combines shoulder-to-shoulder training with experienced hygienists, online learning, and virtual classrooms in a guided cohort. One of the great benefits working with the nation’s largest dental brand is being able to network with peers across Aspen Nation to ask questions and learn best practices.
Considering how important interpersonal skills are to the practice of dental hygiene, laying a foundation of open, frequent, and helpful communication sets up hygienists for long-term success. Flexing those communication muscles can help in a variety of ways, from educating patients to making a business case for expanding a practice.
Don’t just take it from me. Maria, a colleague in Florida, says, “The most unique part of my day is the amount of communication I have with other hygienists. They have a lot of encouraging words and words of wisdom. It’s just been fantastic.”
Operational training expands career possibilities
Once a hygienist has acclimated to their new role, it’s time for the second phase of training: learning about the operational side of hygiene. Hygienists learn how to manage their schedules, use reports, and interpret their metrics to make the best possible decisions for patients and the practice.
As they grow in their careers, hygienists are afforded the continued opportunity to ask questions and learn from others. We leverage modern digital platforms to promote social learning, share resources, and communicate best practices. This approach helps us connect with 1,500 hygienists in more than 1,000 Aspen practices across the country. Having access to a community that speaks our language helps us stay engaged and up-to-date.
Aspen Dental offers hygienists both clinical and nonclinical career growth opportunities that gives us the opportunity to choose our career path. The clinical path involves hands-on care with patients from the lead hygienist and hygiene trainer. The nonclinical opportunities include territory manager or division director of hygiene support, talent acquisition manager, academic relations manager, and operational roles.
Support makes career goals achievable
Aspen Dental supports hygienists’ career growth in many ways. For example, when a hygienist wants to be cross-trained for an operational or leadership role, hygiene managers connect them with the right team members to expand their skill sets. With more than 40 hygiene leaders who travel to offices throughout the country to provide clinical coaching, operational support, and hygiene advocacy, Aspen ensures hygienists have the support they need to be successful.
In the spirit of continued training and development, Aspen Dental embraces the newest technology and most state-of-the-art protocols, a hallmark throughout Aspen’s nearly 25-year history. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic taught us how to pivot quickly, implement new technologies, and learn new ways to practice dentistry. We offer the training, support, and development opportunities hygienists need to embrace continuous learning. By developing an area of expertise, hygienists can differentiate themselves and propel their careers to the next level.
Promotion of long-term hygiene career success
After more than 10 years in hygiene, I’ve found there are three core elements every hygienist needs to be successful: interpersonal skills, an understanding of operations, and the drive to keep learning. Aspen Dental makes significant investments in unique programs and training to help hygienists reach their potential.
I know this from experience; my own journey has propelled my career beyond what I ever imagined. The practice where I worked when I joined Aspen Dental in 2011 was often involved in pilot projects. I was the end user, testing new technologies, systems, and workflows, and this exposure to the training and development side of hygiene steered me to a different career path, a nonclinical path. Today, I help new hygienists acclimate to their roles, and I’m involved in other projects to improve both provider and patient experience.
If you’re looking to jump-start, rejuvenate, or even pivot your hygiene career, Aspen Dental is the place for you.