First day on the job? 5 things to do during your first 100 days in new dental office

June 12, 2015
Starting a new job can be both scary and exciting. This is especially true for recent graduates who have not worked in a dental office before.

5 things to do during your first 100 days on the job

BY Kara Vavrosky, RDH

Starting a new job can be both scary and exciting. This is especially true for recent graduates who have not worked in a dental office before. While school has hopefully prepared you for the technical aspect of being a hygienist, the reality of walking into that first day of work can be very intimidating. Will you remember everything you learned? Will you get along with your coworkers? Will patients compare you to the last hygienist and think you aren't as good? The more you think about it, the more stressed you become!


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Fortunately, you aren't alone. These feelings and questions are completely natural. While it can be overwhelming at first, starting a new job is a great time to build healthy habits that will benefit you throughout your entire career. This month I want to share five things you can do in your first 100 days on the job to become an invaluable team member at your new office.

1. Put the patient first. This should be obvious, but can be easily forgotten. Now that you are in a new office, you will begin to develop relationships with your patients. Hopefully, you will begin to see them twice a year, so it's important to build rapport with your patients and let them know that you are there to help them. Patients come first. Everything else is secondary.

2. Get and stay organized. Whether you are starting directly out of school or coming from another dental office, the location and setup of instruments and supplies will probably be different than what you are used to. Learn where everything is and develop a system to help you stay organized. If there are existing processes your office follows, learn them. And don't be afraid to improve upon them if you think you can make things better.

3. Go above and beyond your official duties. I've written about this quite a bit in the past, but I can't stress this enough. If you want to be seen as a team player around the office, do more than what is in the immediate job description of being a hygienist. Restock supplies, empty the trash, and keep your operatory looking tidy. While there may be others in the office who can do these things, don't push them off onto somebody else. Nobody likes a prima donna hygienist, so don't act like one.

4. Learn the culture of your office.
Every office is different in terms of how things "really" are. Learn what is expected of you and the hierarchy of things. Does the doctor prefer to be contacted directly about general work-related matters, or would he or she prefer you to go through the office manager? If your first patient is at 9 a.m., what time are you expected to arrive at the office? It's important to figure these things out early on so you can fit right in.

5. Show enthusiasm for being a hygienist. Your excitement and enthusiasm will be pretty high in the first couple weeks at a new office. You'll be figuring out how everything runs and bonding with your new colleagues. However, be aware that some days just won't go as planned. This happens to the best of us, seasoned or new. You may run behind schedule, a patient wouldn't accept perio treatment even though you did your best educating, or you just couldn't open a contact on bitewings no matter how hard you tried! Don't feel defeated or lose your enthusiasm for dental hygiene. Instead, actively learn from these days. That's how you grow! It's important to keep things in perspective and remember why you became a hygienist in the first place.

Whether you are a seasoned hygienist or straight out of school, the first few months at a new office are an exciting time. You will begin to learn more about your coworkers and probably develop some new friendships. There will inevitably be some ups and downs, but taking a deliberate approach to your first 100 days will help set you up for success. I encourage you to try the five things listed above and thrive at your new office! RDH

Kara Vavrosky, RDH, runs the popular Facebook page, Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH, and is also the founder of DentalHygieneAnswers.com, a question and answer platform for dental hygienists. Kara serves on the Clinical Advisory Board of GoodMouth, a toothbrush subscription service, and the Advisory Board of Support Clean Dentistry, an initiative to raise awareness of cleanliness in the dental office. Kara currently works for a one-doctor, family-oriented practice in Portland, Oregon.