Hey there, RDH! (or maybe even DA!) Congratulations on graduating, passing your boards and landing a job! It is a seriously huge accomplishment and you deserve all the acknowledgement in the world! Along with acknowledgement, you could probably use some advice too, huh? We figured as much, Dental Babe…and as usual, we got your back!
Lucky for you, our office is full of semi-recent graduates, both in and out of the dental field! We are excited to offer advice that will help prepare you for the real world! Post-grad jitters are a real thing, so we’re gonna get real-honest and make you real-ready for this endeavor.
First and foremost, we realize that maybe you’ve not yet passed your boards…and THAT. IS. O.K.! Even some of the best hygienists did not pass their boards on the first try! There is a reason you’re allowed to take them more than once, so even if you’re not yet ‘officially’ a RDH, this blog could definitely still offer you some insight.
You may also be at the point where you haven’t been hired yet and that’s fine, too! We know what’s going through your mind, ‘Well if it’s this hard to get an interview, imagine how hard it is to actually get a job!’ The truth is, we encourage you to apply to multiple practices and interview at a handful before choosing which one is right for you, anyway! Remember, the team of people you join will be the ones who you work closely with EVERY single day. Not only that, but they will be the ones who offer the advice that you will probably need as a new RDH. You’ll learn from them and they will learn from you! They’ll become like family to you, so you’ve got to choose a place you feel comfortable and happy. Remember, you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you!
find your dental family
You found your dental family and they’ve offered you the job, how exciting! Although you may be jumping up and down on the inside, play it cool! Our CEO (who’s also a fellow RDH) suggests that you ask the office if you could schedule a ‘working interview’ before accepting the position. During a working interview, you'll see patients as a normal day at the office. This will really solidify your decision and it’s amazing practice too! Not to mention come your first day, you’ll already know what to expect – which is a great confidence booster when preparing for your first day on the job.
"never be afraid to ask questions"
You definitely won’t ever forget your first real patient, so this is a day to look forward to! Our first word of advice, that you should keep in mind throughout your career, is to never be afraid to ask questions. Our Marketing Director remembers the first day at her ‘real’ job, she sat behind a computer and wasted over an hour trying to figure something out. She was so frustrated and nervous, she almost cried! Finally, she simply asked someone who had already been working there, and they quickly gave her a solution with a smile. She told us she can’t believe she suffered in silence for an hour instead of just speaking up! It’s something you have to do for your own learning ability (and your own sanity too, LOL) and you certainly shouldn’t be nervous to do so.
Here's our top questions to to ask on your interview:
- What is expected of you? - This sets the tone for them to tell the story of what they expect. Do they expect you to call patient recalls? Will you be doing stock ordering? Will you talk about payments with your patients. Let them tell you so you are both on the same page. Never assume every office or position is the same!
- What are your projected hours? - If they are offering part time, ask if there is room for growth! It's okay to start slow and work your way up to full time. The part time offer might be the office of your dreams!
- Sick days and Vacation time? - Make sure you're aware of this before starting a new job. You don't want to be blind sided later on.
Benefits? - This one will vary A LOT. Most dentists do not provide benefits, but the times are changing. If they do not provide benefits, ask if they are willing to provide monthly contribution towards your plan. Together we create what is expected, the more we ask, the closer we get to changing the norm!
- How long are appointments?
- Prophy - Ideally this should be 45 min for adults and 30 for children.
- New Patient - Ideally this should be 1 hr to leave time for FMX, and thorough med hx.
- Perio - Ideally this should range from 45 min to 1 hr depending on the stage of perio progression.
- What is your perio protocol? - perio is a thing! You need to know what you're getting into. Know that if they don't have one, be ready to implement one!
- What is the dress code? Scrubs, business casual, atheleisure? Find an office with style that fits your fancy.
- What are the opportunities for CE and is there compensation? - Do they do CE's together as an office or are you on your own? Knowing this ahead of time will help you plan. Some offices will cover your CE's or give you a stipend per year toward your CEs.
- If there are no patients, ask for a tour of the office! - Pay attention to the sterilization room and how much room is in your potential opp. If you're a lefty, ask if the opps are switchable to accommodate you!
*Never settle for an office that doesn't feel right. Know your rights, and know when an office isn't being run properly. We hold each other accountable for the safety of our patients and for the success of our profession.* <3