Overall, dental hygiene usually ranks high in terms of job satisfaction. Most surveys find that dental hygienists are happy with their careers. However, hygiene has one major drawback in terms of career trajectory: a job as a clinical hygienist is generally a terminal position. There’s not much space for vertical growth. So how can dental hygienists stay engaged and avoid burnout in the long run? Is there any hope for dental hygienist career advancement? With CDP there is!
Dental Hygiene Is a Great Career
The hygiene department is a key component of any successful family dental practice. Hygienists spend more time in the operatory with their patients than any other member of the team. They get to know the patients better than even the dentists. Hygienists are often the reason patients commit to a practice and keep coming back.
Dental hygienists are in the business of preventative healthcare. Patient education is a major part of a hygienist’s day, and a high dental IQ makes all the difference in how your patients perform with home care and keeping up with their appointments. Hygienists must be great communicators and understand all aspects of dental healthcare.
They’re also frequently the first medical professionals to notice changes in patients’ health and alert them to developing problems. Case acceptance and patient compliance often depend on the hygienists as well. Before the doctor ever walks into the room, a competent hygienist can set the stage for any news the dentist may have for the patient, planting the seed for them to accept or decline an upcoming treatment plan.
In short, hygienists are highly valuable clinicians and should be treated as such! Unfortunately, it can be a challenge in a practice where the doctor respects your expertise. As rewarding as a dental hygiene career can be, it can become tedious and discouraging to work without the potential for advancement. Even in the best work environment, it can feel downright impossible to find a dental hygiene job that keeps you from stagnating as a clinician.
That’s why Community Dental Partners invests in our hygienists. Hygienists who love their careers can change their patients’ lives and safeguard their health in the long term. Hygiene can be a demanding job. It takes effort to stay energized and engaged over the years as a dental hygienist. It takes lifelong learning, staying up to date on new skills and technologies, and expanding your scope of practice over time. Part of giving our patients the best possible care means giving our dental hygienists opportunities for career advancement and growth.
The Limitations of Dental Hygienist Career Advancement
The lack of opportunities for career advancement is the main drawback of a career as a dental hygienist. In short, there really aren’t many. Working as an RDH or CRDH is a terminal position for clinical dental hygienists. There is no such thing as a promotion for hygienists in most practices. That can leave hygienists feeling stuck. Where can you go from a position in clinical dental hygiene?
Dental Hygienists Can Pursue Additional Degrees or Alternative Positions
For most hygienists, the only way to grow in their career is to earn higher degrees or consider positions other than clinical practice. While you’ll need an associate degree to become a hygienist, higher degrees are available in the field. Just be sure your career will benefit from a bachelor’s or master’s degree program before committing to the expense and time to pursue them. What are you hoping to do with those degrees? In most cases, they won’t significantly change your dental hygienist career advancement opportunities if you want to keep working as a clinical hygienist.
Of course, there are other career paths for dental hygienists. You could consider going into public health, working to organize programs like Head Start, or working in public health administration. You could become a sales representative or work in research. You could go on to become a dental hygiene educator, working in a college to train the next generation of hygienists.
In some states, you could become an advanced dental hygiene practitioner. With a master’s degree in dental hygiene and additional licensing exams, you could establish an independent practice to help provide dental hygiene health services for those who have trouble accessing dental healthcare. However, these positions are not widely available, and most would require you also to become a business owner, an additional level of responsibility many hygienists don’t really want.
How CDP Keeps Dental Hygienist Career Advancement Moving Forward
Most hygienists find that they love working with patients. They connect deeply with their patients and find the job highly rewarding. Watching the change in your patients’ health over time can give you the motivation to continue to improve your skills as a clinician for years. But finding a great practice that supports your dental hygiene career advancement makes a huge difference as well.
Continuing Education is a requirement to maintain any dental license. But CEs can be so much more than just a box to tick to keep your license active. At CDP, we provide continuing education opportunities we believe will help our hygienists truly grow as healthcare providers. We also provide clinical development, support, and mentorship.
Mentorship is a key component of our practice philosophy at CDP. We believe in the value of learning from experience. Partnering with an experienced team member helps newcomers hone their skills and integrate with their team. They can also help push fellow hygienists to face new challenges and grow in ways they may not have considered before!
In fact, we believe so deeply in the value of a strong team that we offer a yearly provider retreat to network with peers. That peer group includes over fifty other hygienists who can help you grow and support you in your journey. We also offer opportunities for dental hygienist career advancement and benefits you’ll be hard pressed to find in other practices.
With flexible schedules and full-time and part-time opportunities available, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect fit with Community Dental Partners. Don’t let yourself stagnate in your dental hygiene career. We can offer amazing possibilities for advancing or changing your career as a hygienist. Schedule a call with a Recruiting Manager to learn more about a great dental hygiene career at CDP!