Every year at this time, dental hygiene and dental students anticipate graduation. Some have taken their boards, and some are still studying for them. The years of hard work are coming to an end and in a few months, the arduous tasks of submitting resumés and scheduling interviews will begin.
While finding employment is the goal, it should not be the only goal. As most graduating students know, companies are always seeking hygienists and doctors. Some graduates will find the opportunities at large dental organizations exciting and a road to more options for personal and professional growth. Others will find the comforts of a family style dental office inviting and the place to make their professional home. While each have their benefits and limitations, there are crucial questions to ask before accepting any position.
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What to determine in an interview
Students often ask if it’s too bold to interview the interviewer. Absolutely not! In fact, it is recommended. Here are some scenarios for possible discussion.
Scenario 1: The 8 a.m. patient scheduled for 50 minutes arrives at 8:25. What are the ethical considerations? (1) Treat this patient and allow the rest of your morning patients to be inconvenienced because you’re running late. (2) Hurry through the appointment in an effort to stay on time, providing less than the stellar care you’re known for. Or (3) explain that you cannot provide care in the remaining time and prepare for potential backlash from the patient.
Scenario 2: The patient was instructed by their cardiologist to premedicate due to their artificial heart valve. But the patient didn’t believe this was necessary for a “cleaning” and did not take the medication before coming in for their appointment. What are the ethical considerations? (1) Proceed with treatment but treat supragingivally to avoid bleeding and introducing bacteria that could be detrimental to your patient. (2) Make the patient promise to take their medication as soon as they get home. Or (3) explain the purpose of premedication and reschedule the patient, risking a potential argument from the patient.
Scenario 3: The scaling and root planing patient’s blood pressure is 180/110. You retake it multiple times over 20 minutes, and it remains high. What are the ethical considerations? (1) Treat the patient anyway and use Carbocaine 3%. (2) Proceed very gently and use no local anesthesia. Or (3) reschedule and recommend that the patient visit a physician about the hypertension.
Scenario 4: The patient has extensive dental needs and asks you the costs of various procedures. He on a fixed income and asks if you can offer discounts or changes in coding to reflect an adult prophy rather than a periodontal maintenance. What are the ethical considerations? (1) Code for the prophy even though he has a history of periodontal disease and SRP. Insurance may not catch it. (2) Agree to the perio maintenance but charge only for a prophy since he does not have insurance. Or (3) explain to him that you do not keep track of fees because they change from time to time and the financial manager will work with him to find a practical payment solution.
In each of these four scenarios, you need to know how your potential employer would have you address the issues. If you agree with their approach, move forward with the interview process. If not, the office may not be the best choice for you.
Think about the future
These are only a few situations you may find yourself in once you’re out of the safety of an academic institution. While it’s unnerving to believe there are offices that would allow such behavior, it is not uncommon. Dentistry is a business tasked with providing care, but it is also a business intended to turn a profit and provide income for the dentist and staff. Most of us can do both. For others, losing sight of why they chose a career in dentistry becomes clouded with the idea of a six-digit income and material gains.
Therefore, you must interview the interviewer. Remember, you will be spending eight to 10 hours a day in the office. You must know if their philosophy is in line with yours. If it’s not, regardless of the income, opportunities for advancement, office trips, etc., you will be fraught with uneasiness and concern.
Do yourself a favor and go into your interviews with a list of questions and concerns. When you feel the interview is going well, it is your turn to clarify how certain situations are handled. If you agree with their approach, move forward with the process. If not, the office may not be the best choice for you.