Elizabeth C. Kornegay, MS, CDA, RDH, and Roxanne M. Dsouza, MS, RDH—educators at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry—breakdown what new grads should consider before starting their job search.
Beginning a new career as a clinical dental hygienist can be intimidating considering the variety in practice types, differences across potential employers, and no longer being under the oversight of your dental hygiene educators. To begin with this process, ask yourself the following questions:
1. WHAT ARE MY MUST HAVES?
First, begin considering your top three to five must haves you are looking for in a position. This may include philosophy of practice; compensation and benefits; dental hygiene scheduling (eg, length of appointments, assisted hygiene); wellness opportunities; professional development, such as continuing education (CE); type of practice (eg, pediatrics, periodontology); structure of the team; facility design; technology offerings; and instruments provided. Keep this list close throughout your job search and your career. Regularly evaluate, reflect, and update this list as you gain experience as a clinical dental hygienist.
2. WHAT ARE MY DEAL BREAKERS?
Next, identify your three to five deal breakers. You can consider the same factors for your deal breakers that you did for your must haves. Examples of deal breakers may be inappropriate or inadequate personal protective equipment, ethical considerations, such as HIPAA violations and practicing outside of your scope of practice in your state; or a hostile, noncollaborative work environment. As with your must-haves list, maintain and update this list throughout your job search and career.
3. HOW DO I SEARCH AND IDENTIFY AVAILABLE POSITIONS?
You can identify available positions through resources including professional networks, which include people you know in dentistry and professional associations such as the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the local component of your state’s dental hygienists’ association. Social media, such as Facebook groups, often list available positions. You can also look for positions through CE courses, public employment agencies, newspaper or website advertisements, dental hygiene school announcements, and job websites (eg, LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor).
Identifying what you want and don’t want in a workplace is essential to finding the right position. Take some time deciding what will make you happy at work, then take the steps to find the best practice for you.