By Jannette Whisenhunt, RDH, BS, MEd, PhD
Finding the perfect job for you may seem like a dream and not a reality. There is no such thing as a "perfect office." Every office may have little things that you are not happy with, but you can find the place where you can be happy and feel like it is "home." I see many young hygiene graduates get out there and think that they will find their dental home on the first try, and that is oftentimes unrealistic. As the old saying goes, "Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince." This can also be said about finding your happy dental home. I do not advocate that you hop from job to job to job (frog pun intended), but you need to try to learn from every place you work and realize what you can and cannot live with.
You may already be in the right dental home for you, but you may not have realized it yet. What I mean is that many times your attitude is what you need to look at. Do you find fault with things that happen at work, or do you try to look at both sides of a situation? Sometimes, it is easy to complain but it is not so easy to see that there is a reason things are the way they are.
For example, "Mary" is a hygienist who is always behind schedule. It drives everyone else in the office a little crazy; they talk about how she is always behind and how it is expected that others help her clean her room or take her next patient for her. If you are the one who is always doing the helping out, it can get old really quick. This situation makes you feel that you are being taken advantage of. Why are you expected to stay on schedule and she is not? It can be a catalyst for hurt feelings and a seemingly good reason for you to be unhappy.
Now, let's look at this situation with a different set of eyes and an attitude of understanding. Mary is a veteran hygienist who is excellent at her job and has a great understanding of how an office is run. She works like you have never seen before. She takes time with every patient to show them good home-care skills and enjoys great rapport with them. Most of her patients ask to see her specifically and will reschedule if she is not there.
One of the most important things is that Mary has the highest percentage of operative procedures coming out of her room. She can explain dentistry to her patients and help them understand what they need to have done to keep their oral condition healthy. Yes, she may take more time with her patients than you do, but you now see what other things she is doing, and it helps you understand why she sometimes runs late. Overall, her work is helping the office make production every month and Mary may be the reason that you are getting a bonus!
Now, you understand a little more and see that she is not running behind on purpose. She is trying to do her best for every patient and is actually making the office more productive. Looking at this specific situation and realizing that your attitude or perspective is what needs to be adjusted will help you see that maybe you were being a little one-sided. Perhaps you were only thinking of yourself instead of seeing that Mary was not out to make your day bad. Hopefully, you will see that by changing your vision, it can turn a seemingly bad situation into a healthy one. You may actually learn how to be a better hygienist because of it!
I am not denying that there are unhealthy, toxic offices out there, but before you hop to another office, make sure you have given your office an honest try. Learn from every office you work in. When you get to the office that is your perfect fit, you will appreciate it so much more because you have been in situations that were not the best. If you are stuck in a bad situation, try not to let it get you down, but also realize that you do not have to stay stuck there. It may take courage to leave an office, and you may feel unsure of what to do, but know that it is only temporary and you can find the right place for you. RDH
Some advice for hygienists who feel stuck
I know a wonderful graduate, Lauren Rasner, RDH, who told me that she felt stuck in a bad situation until she found her perfect dental home. She talked about how she knew that she didn't want to stay there and looked for a while until she made her move to her current office. She is so happy now and loves her workplace.
I asked her to send me some advice to anyone who is going through the same thing she did. The following are her top 10 pieces of advice for any hygienist who feels stuck in a bad place. I hope you find Lauren's advice helpful and that you will find the courage to leave the office behind and find the perfect office for you.
Lauren is a graduate of Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, N.C.
1. Do not settle for just any office. You are as good as any veteran RDH and deserve to be treated as such.
2. Do not deviate from the way you were taught and don't cut corners. Otherwise, mistakes will be made.
3. You have every right to be picky as to where you land your first job.
4. Do what you know is right, regardless of how the "team" runs the ship. It will never steer you wrong.
5. Don't be afraid to take control of a situation. Be a go-getter and help make a situation right.
6. It may take a few tries, but you will find your dental home.
7. Temping, while working, is a great way to see every type of practice.
8. Don't throw away dirty water till you have clean water. In other words, if you're in a lousy job, do not leave it until you have a better one lined up.
9. Do not burn bridges.
10. Happiness is one of the most important aspects of your career. If you're not happy, then make a change!
Jannette Whisenhunt, RDH, BS, MEd, PhD, is the Department Chair of Dental Education at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, N.C. Dr. Whisenhunt has taught since 1987 in the dental hygiene and dental assisting curricula. She has a love for students and served as the state student advisor for nine years and has won the student Advisor of the Year award from ADHA in the past. Her teaching interests are in oral cancer, ethics, infection control, emergencies and orofacial anatomy. Dr. Whisenhunt also has a small continuing education business where she provides CE courses for dental practices and local associations. She can be reached at [email protected].