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This got you talking: Why did you leave your last dental hygiene role?

Jan. 4, 2024
Not every position is a keeper. Here's what your industry peers said were reasons they left their last jobs in dental hygiene.

It's nice to think of every job being one that offers the flexibility and fullfilment needed to stick around for years, but it's just not always the way. Almost everyone has experienced the feeling of knowing, for various reasons, that it was time to find something else.

Here’s a look at what some of your hygiene colleagues had to say on the RDH Facebook page about why they left their last hygiene job. (Some responses were edited lightly for clarity or space.)

After many years in the same office, I left because I felt bullied by the receptionist. I tried to talk to her many times, without any changes. I also talked to the dentist many times, without any changes. I looked for a new office for 6 years before I finally found what I wanted! I got a huge raise and a much better working environment! —Alice B.

I was told long ago by a seasoned hygienist that “the hygienist is the unwanted and resented stepchild of a dental office. We are alone.” I often felt very alone in dental offices until I got involved (in associations, education, dental conferences, etc.). We have GOT to come together … if we don’t, it’s a matter of time before our scope is reassigned to dental assistants and new associate dentists as a first- or second-year duty. —Katrina K.

I was told I could “either be a mom or a professional” when I asked to reduce my hours…so I quit and found a great office where I can absolutely be both! —Shannon L.

I had been at my office for 4 years. Had a full schedule with loyal patients. I hit my head on a mounted TV one morning and ended up with a severe concussion, and I was throwing up for the two weeks I first took off. The neurologist recommended I take more time off. I did not due to it being December. I did however limit my hours to 7-8 from 9-10 a day. I ended up having a TIA the middle of January due to not resting and healing and I had to take a month off. I came back to work and had no scheduled patients; I was told I was a liability and couldn’t work out of my room and that I had lost the office patients and money due to rescheduling. They had hired a new hygienist and she was working in my room, with my personally-paid-for equipment, for the last month! When I took my stuff out of the room, she said, "What am I supposed to work with?" I said sorry. I was forced to quit that day. —Shelby H.

I opened my own practice! —Melanie A.

Maybe I misunderstood the job application or I was unaware of the lingo used in the business, but I was hired for a "permanent part-time" position for 3 days a week. I worked for 6-8 weeks until I was released due to the fact that the hygienist I replaced "wanted to come back to work." I didn't pry, but I'm assuming she had a baby, took time off or maybe even quit herself, but then wanted to return to her office. That's fine, but don't advertise an opening as "permanent." Anyway, I soon found a job with my current doctor and have been with him for almost 7 years now and have been very happy. —Matthew E.

High staff turnover. Reduction of benefits. Low pay. Not feeling valued. Asked once if/when we would stop accepting new patients as we were not able to keep up with how many we already had and was basically told I would have to work more hours so the office could take on more patients whether I wanted to or not. At that time I was working three days because that’s what works well for my family and the office was open four days. I left and found a great office that is happy to have me three days a week. —Stacy L.

Covid closing practices and being told we were not key workers. —Mandy M.

Read more or join the conversation about why you left your last dental hygiene role on the RDH Facebook page.

About the Author

Elizabeth S. Leaver

Elizabeth S. Leaver is the digital content manager for Endeavor Business Media's dental group. She has a degree in journalism from Northeastern University in Boston. Before diving into the dental world, she spent years working in niche industries specializing in creating content, editing, content marketing, and publishing digital and magazine content. She lives in the Boston area.