Th Job Security 01

Job Security

Aug. 1, 2009
How to feel certain about job security during tough economic times.
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How to feel certain about job security during tough economic times

by Tara L. Menard, RDH, LSC©

During these turbulent economic times, everyone is focused on job security. Some say that hygiene positions are few and far between because of the economy, and others say the market is saturated. Either way, in order to land that position and not be threatened with job loss, you’ll need to be outstanding in your field. What does it take to be an outstanding clinical hygienist? In hygiene school we strive for excellence, but what happens when we graduate? How long after graduation do we strive to be outstanding? Is there a secret quality of a peak performer, or a secret quality to be compensated like a peak performer and fulfilled in your career? No, there is no single quality; however, there is a combination of fine qualities. Outstanding hygienists set extremely high standards for themselves. They bring value to patients, team, community, and their practice. Here are seven qualities found in outstanding clinical dental hygienists.

Provide Outstanding Patient Care (Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10)

Yes, we are the health-care providers who provide the best care we can, right? Have you ever asked yourself what outstanding care really is? Is it more than reviewing a medical history, performing an oral cancer exam or a prophy, necessary radiographs, and oral hygiene instruction? Does outstanding care occur during the typical 45-minute appointment? No, 45 minutes is a good start to the minimum standard of care. Outstanding is beyond great. It is where you deepen your understanding of patients’ needs and wants. It is identifying their values and beliefs surrounding dentistry, oral health, and overall health. It means educating patients with all options. We need to help our patients make educated decisions for the best course of disease treatment and disease prevention. Outstanding patient care means putting aside your own beliefs regarding what patients can or can’t afford. You provide outstanding health care when you provide a full menu of services that are based on the latest evidence-based research. Finally, outstanding patient care is understanding where the patient is by being empathetic and compassionate while delivering exceptional clinical services.

Winning Attitude (Rate yourself 1-10)

What is attitude? Attitude is your thoughts, feelings, and actions all rolled into one. Your thoughts ultimately dictate whether your feelings are positive or negative, and this will be displayed in your actions and behaviors. These actions and behaviors produce results in your office and life. Do you love what you do? Do you love to go to the office each day? Some hygienists are the movers and shakers in the office. They seem to go from one accomplishment to the next without missing a beat. This is a matter of choosing a winning attitude. Author Dorothea Brand said, “Act as if it were impossible to fail.” You can choose your thoughts each day, so be aware of what you focus on. By actively choosing winning thoughts you will allow other positive people and circumstances into your daily work. Show up with a “whatever it takes” attitude to make it an outstanding day.

Doing More Than You’re Paid For (Rate yourself 1-10)

“If you’re willing to do more than you’re paid to do, eventually you will be paid to do more than you do.” Source unknown

Do you go the extra mile for your employer, coworkers, or patients? Do you give more than your employer expects? Why should you do more? In order to really excel and be indispensable, you must trust that at some point in your career you will reap the rewards. When a hygienist calls in sick, do you volunteer to stay late or work through lunch to accommodate patients? Instead of focusing on how you can get more compensation, focus on how you can give more to the patients, practice, and team.

Become an Astute Business Partner (Rate yourself 1-10)

Develop the attitude that you’re a business partner to the doctor and everything will change. Remember that it is a business and the decisions made by the doctor ultimately affect the practice, patients, and team. Ask key questions such as: If this were my business, what qualities would I like to see in my staff? How can I bring more patients to our office? How can I help my practice stand out? Educate yourself regarding what responsibilities the doctor has in order to keep his or her dental business profitable. Understand the doctor’s financial pressures and primary frustrations of the hygiene department. Be willing to reach production goals and offer great patient care with a variety of dental hygiene services. Become a department leader by guiding and leading the rest of the team to grow and contribute to the vision of the practice.

Commitment to Kaizen (Rate yourself 1-10)

Kaizen is the Japanese word for constant and never-ending improvement. Adopt this word and make it your personal mantra. Ask yourself how you can do things better. How can you add more value? The world of dentistry is continuously changing and evolving with new evidence-based research, technologies, and techniques. In order for a dental hygienist to remain valuable within the practice, constant improvement is essential. In order to thrive in the modern-day dental practice, you must be dedicated to constant improvement. Personal and professional growth is a MUST! Decide what you would like to improve and create a plan of action steps. Do this in small increments. You’re learning more to earn more. Improve your clinical skills, expand your knowledge base, learn something new, and bring it to the office to share. Attend seminars and workshops with a willingness to grow and expand. Do it on your own and surprise your employer by NOT asking to be compensated for the seminars.

Be a Team Player (Rate yourself 1-10)

What does it really mean to be a team player? We are made to contribute and make a difference in each other’s lives. Deep down we all want to be part of a team. Find a team of people you love and care about that constantly challenge you to be more than you ever thought you could be. True happiness at work and in life is finding something bigger than yourself. When you add value to your teammates by inspiring them to be more successful, it will come back to you tenfold. Support your team by supporting the purpose, vision, and goals of the practice. Have pure motives without hidden agendas. Build relationships with integrity, and believe in and take care of your team.

Living the Golden Rule (Rate yourself 1-10)

What is the Golden Rule? It simply states: Treat others as you want to be treated. In other words, take a walk in others’ shoes. Ultimately, this leads to your own happiness. Let’s say you go the extra mile for your coworkers. Obviously, those actions will be good for those you help and are kind to, but you’ll notice something strange happening. People will treat you better too. You will also notice a greater satisfaction within yourself. Living the Golden Rule will make you a better person, make those around you happier, and make the practice a better place to work. Practice empathy with your employer, coworkers, and patients. Make it a habit to put yourself in others’ shoes and ask what it’s like to be them and what they’re going through. Once you grasp what it’s like to be other people and understand what they’re going through, be compassionate. What small action can you take to ease their pain or suffering? Have a pleasing attitude by being friendly, kind, courteous, and listening with the intent to understand.

In conclusion, evaluate where you are by reflecting on each area and rating yourself, with 1 being mediocre and 10 being outstanding. Be honest with yourself. In order to know where you’re going, you must know where you are. Once identified, ask yourself how you can improve, and start taking small steps to close the gap of where you are and where you want to be by writing short-term goals and monitoring your results. Do you want to be a paycheck collector or a peak performer? Strive to be above 10, which is extraordinary!

A score of 1 to 3 means you’re simply collecting a paycheck. You clock in and out, and don’t necessarily add great value to your day in the office. You may even find it hard to go into work each day. You’re in the office to put in your time until retirement. You may be worried in the back of your mind about whether or not your hours will be cut.

A score of 4 to 7 means you have the potential to be outstanding or a peak performer, but you think you’re entitled to be paid more to do more. Some days you’re motivated to raise your standards, but many times you find yourself complaining about the way things are instead of finding a way to make things better. You blame others about your job security in the office.

A score of 7 to 10 means you’re a peak performer and outstanding in your daily performance. You bring more value to the office every day than what you expect in return. You have the “I will do it and how can I help make this better?” attitude. Your reward is knowing that you did the best you could today. Your actions speak louder than words, and because of this you are confident in your job security.

About the Author

Tara L. Menard, RDH, LSC©, is an Independent Licensed LifeSuccess Consultant and business partner of Bob Proctor. Tara is the principal and co-owner of Growth Point, a consulting and business strategy company. Tara helps dental hygienists, dentists, and individuals be their best and believe in their unlimited potential and personal power. With over 22 years of experience in dentistry, she is able to deliver speaking programs, a variety of in-person seminars, workshops, one-on-one coaching programs, in-office consulting, and Dental Mastermind Groups. Contact Tara at [email protected] or 401-413-0465. Visit her Web site at