Career Story: Dental Hygienist In Two Dentist Offices

Dental Hygienist In Two Dentist Offices

Job Title: Dental Hygienist

Education: A.S. West Los Angeles College •• B.., College of Southern Nevada

Previous Experience: 1. Certified Oral Surgery Assistant 2. Operating Room Technician 3. Caterer

Job Tasks: As a dental hygienist, I am responsible for more than just "cleaning teeth". I'm the health provider who sees my patient base more often that the dentist or personal physician. As such I am the first line of defense in fighting oral and systemic disease. I screen health histories, take blood pressures, do oral cancer screenings, take dental x-rays and review for the presence of pathology. I improve patient health by cleaning teeth and educating patients and their families on proper oral care.

A typical day is from 7:00- 3:30 with 8 patients treated in one hour increments and a 1/2 hour lunch. During each patient hour, I also complete electronic patient charting on the computer.

I work in two different offices; one on Monday and Wednesday and the other on Tuesday and Thursday.

As a hygienist, I have complete flexibility in deciding which days and hours I wish to work and there is a large number of dental offices that need new dental hygienists.

As a hygienist, I have a chance to give back to my community and earn a competitive salary. Since we are well paid, I am able to donate one Saturday each month to a free clinic to provide care to the underserved.

I changed careers when I was 40 years old and found that as a hygienist, I am not at risk for age discrimination when it comes to hiring and salary. Being a little older and/or more confident and professional is an asset in my field. Also, there are many opportunities for career growth, education, and travel as a dental hygienist.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the flexibility. I can choose when and where I want to work. Also, since I see the same patient base in each office I develope a rapport and friendship with my patients.

The worst part of my job is that people seldom are aware that a registered dental hygienist is more than a dental assistant, with a minimum of 2 years of college and advanced training to provide a high level of qualified patient care

Job Tips:
1. If you are interested in dental hygiene as a career, concentrate on the prerequisite science classes. It is a very selective field in that most programs have a very small class size, usually averaging 30 or less.

2. Organize your life before starting school. The programs are very demanding of your time and mental energy.

3. Make sure your familyy is supportive of the effort you are making. A strong support structure at home will go a long way to making you successful.

Additional Thoughts: Dental hygiene has been such a great choice for me! It has allowed me to travel, work in a profession where no two patient experiences are ever the same, and learn about systemic health to keep myself and my family on the path to wellness. When you add the fact that you can be very well paid and in charge of many of the aspects of your day it's a no lose career that you can be ready for in less that two years!

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