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Is it time for a change?

Oct. 1, 2006
Position opening: The Perfect Dental Hygiene Job...
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Position opening: The Perfect Dental Hygiene Job
Where: The Perfect Dental Office
Wanted: Passionate Dental Hygienist

Benefits include:

  • Generous salary
  • Annual raises
  • Uncontested appointment duration
  • Close to home (gas allowance included)
  • Clothing allowance
  • Professional laundry service provided
  • Paid continuing education fees, paid time off for continuing education
  • Lunch hour 1 ½ hours - flex time optional
  • Pleasant/top-notch dental hygiene assistant who has never missed a day of work
  • Ergonomic working environment
  • Reasonable budget for instruments, equipment, and supplies
  • Equipment constantly updated to the latest technology
  • Ethical employer with outstanding clinical skills and a good sense of humor
  • Professional staff that likes to have fun
  • Employer and staff open to new ideas and suggestions
  • Health spa/exercise equipment
  • Electronic deposit that has never been late
  • Collaborative treatment planning
  • Unsurpassed asepsis techniques
  • Asepsis technician on-site daily
  • Radiology technician on-site daily
  • International annual staff rejuvenation retreat (family optional)
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • 401(k)
  • Paid child care
  • Paid sick leave
  • Paid maternity leave
  • Paid vacation (minimum four weeks - at any time of year)
  • Short-term disability
  • Long-term disability
  • Liability insurance
  • Paid professional membership dues
  • Guaranteed annual review and bonus
  • The other dental hygienists are perfect too
  • If you saw this ad posted in your local paper, what would your initial reaction be? Would you be on the phone immediately to set up an interview, or would you immediately dismiss it with skepticism? Is this job just too good to be true? Is there a perfect job out there?Although this position sounds wonderful, I would not apply. Through personal life experiences, I’ve learned that my happiness depends less on finding the perfect office and more on finding the perfect fit. I’ll never be happy in the perfect office, because I’m not perfect.After living a decade with chronic pain from an autoimmune disease and a major health crisis of renal failure in 1996, I’ve learned to adapt to an imperfect life. Although we all have our bad days, I strive to cope with the aches and pains of life through distraction (from pain) and humor, living each day to the fullest.I could have wallowed in despair. But my life really changed when I decided to be personally accountable for my happiness. As a result, I have become my own health-care provider, prescribing a healthy diet, exercise, a heaping dose of humor, and a lifetime supply of positive attitude - known as Quality of Life.Quality of life is something many want, but few work to achieve. After working 25 years in dentistry, I have met many people who have lost the energy to think about their quality of life, much less become their own advocate. The “spark” that led them to a career in dental hygiene has faded away. Somewhere along the way someone extinguished their spark, or perhaps they forgot how important it was to nurture and protect it.If you’ve lost that spark, how do you regain it? The first (and most important step) is to make a plan. After that, the ball is in your court. Happiness is objective, but I think you will find the following five suggestions helpful in improving your quality of life:
  • Make a plan - you’ll find it will give you hope and hope will take you far. Are you in a dysfunctional relationship at work (or home)? If you’re in a toxic relationship, let me be the first (or hopefully the last) to tell you that you deserve better. If you accepted a job that is breaking your spirit or if the perfect job has gone sour, you might not be able to leave right away (although this is probably all you dream about!). Make a plan.
  • If the emotional environment at work is poisonous to your spirit, you’d better have a healthy emotional environment at home. Stress is a normal part of life. Believe it or not, healthy levels of stress are good for the immune system. What isn’t good for the immune system is stress day in and day out. Stress is the underlying problem in multiple systemic diseases, and if you don’t address it, your body will.
  • Have a conversation with yourself and ask the hard questions. If you’re being overwhelmed with stress from both home and work, it’s time to ask yourself a difficult question: Is it time to quit? Get out a pen and paper and make a list of the pros and cons. Emotions are undeniably important, but rational thoughts about your situation are equally important.
  • Are you part of the problem? Are you bringing negativity upon yourself? Are problems from your personal life oozing into your professional life? Are you so discontent at work that it’s affecting your personal life?
  • Is there anything you can do to improve the situation, or has too much water gone under the bridge? Not unlike a marriage “on the rocks,” sometimes both parties letting down their guard will build a better, stronger relationship. Both parties have to be willing and honest and leave their egos at the door. Undeniably, this takes communication and openness, and few people are mature (and humble) enough to do this. If both parties cannot do this, it’s time for an amicable divorce. Although a divorce from any office can be messy, neither party will benefit from throwing dirt.
  • Bonus suggestion: Not everyone can get the love and support from his/her job and home 365 days a year. Ultimately, you should be responsible for your own happiness, but sometimes we just need someone who is on our side. This is when your support can be found through your colleagues. Take responsibility for your career and improve your dental hygiene quality of life. Consider being a member of ADHA, participating in your local dental hygiene component, joining a dental hygiene study group, and attending the RDH Under One Roof dental hygiene conference. Establishing relationships with other dental hygienists at home and around the country (and beyond) is how you can find the support only another hygienist can give. Remember, birds of a feather flock together.Dental offices are like toothbrushes - they come in every size, color, and shape. Finding the perfect job for you will improve your quality of life, just as finding the perfect oral hygiene products for our patients will improve their oral hygiene and, therefore, improve their quality of life. Although we should all be reminded that work isn’t everything and family should always come first, we cannot deny that most of us spend much more time at work than with our loved ones. Life is too short to spend so much of our lives in discontent. If your career is no longer on the heading you had set, then turn off the autopilot and fly it yourself for a while. If your work situation is affecting your personal quality of life, quit watching the check engine light flicker and get it fixed. Cheryl A. Thomas, RDH, currently resides in Galveston, Texas. She can be contacted at [email protected], or visit her Web site at