Does anyone actually like being a Dental Hygienist?

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west suburban girl in Aurora, Illinois

28 months ago

Hi KB.

I am an RDH living in Chicago's western suburbs and have been practicing since 2003. I enjoy my job and feel I make a difference in my patients lives. That being said, I do not like working for my micromanaging DDS. I have been looking for another office to work in for 2 years. I scour the want ads, post my resume, and walk into offices. I turn down many offers of job interviews because there are no health benefits offered (health insurance). When I speak to these dentists, they tell me they get at least 100 resumes when they advertise for jobs. The market is VERY tight. Full time positions are hard to come by. I would recommend hygiene as a job if you wanted to work part time and have no need of health benefits.

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KB in Broadview, Illinois

28 months ago

Cerritos College Grad in Placentia, California said: Dear KB,

I don't recommend you look into DH if you are looking for a FT career with benefits.

What made you consider being a hygienist in the first place?

Well, I just thought it was a interesting career to go into. I've alway been one of the few people in the world that enjoy going to the dentist, so I didn't mind the idea of working for one.

The pay isn't bad and everyone keeps saying it's a good field to go into because there will be more jobs in the next few years.

I knew about the part time. but I didn't know about the benefits... It's crazy that you can work for someone who's in the medical field and you don't get health benefits...

I don't know, just when I thought I knew what I wanted to do.....

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KB in Broadview, Illinois

28 months ago

Cerritos College Grad in Placentia, California said: Dear KB,

In my opinion, being a dental hygienist is "hell" if you can't find work, work for a dentist who does not value or respect you, and/or work with chronic pain.

The current lack of F/T positions with benefits is a disadvantageous aspect of the field, but not in the above "hell" category.

I agree with you that dental hygiene is an interesting career and if you find the right dentists, they are a blessing to work for.

I don't know about future job growth, considering the number of private schools that are cranking out new grads as well as dentists who are doing their own hygiene, due to lack of business.

As for medical benefits, I don't get any, but dental benefits for me and my family are fantastic. All dental work is free; we only pay for lab/materials (even these are waved most of the time). And I have the option of getting free whitening and Invisalign for under $900.

Want to know what I dislike about dental hygiene?
1) Elderly patients who can't recline all the way back.
2) Sometimes an afternoon falls apart and I have no work for that day.
3) If I get lazy about ergonomics, the aches and pains start to accumulate in my body.

Want to know what I like about dental hygiene?
1) I get $45-55 an hour.
2) I get to meet and build long-term relationships with some of the nicest people in the area and see their oral health improve.
3) I actually find it fun to remove plaque and calculus. I always tell my friends that it was going to be either dental hygiene or removing blackheads.

If you enjoy going to the dentist would like to work for one, why not an office manager/treatment coordinator? Many of them get F/T positions with benefits.

What you're saying is true about the jobs, because I never noticed before but the dentist I've been going to snice I was little never had and still doesn't have an assistant or hyienist. She does everything herself.

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KB in Broadview, Illinois

28 months ago

exp in Hampton, New Hampshire said: Do not believe the govt/bls/schools.....DO BELIEVE what we who are actual RDH's working in many states as to the present and future situation of our field...as far as pay...the RDH's pay can range and be reduced quite easily, depending on the number of DH's in the area you want to work, the Dr.'s choice and the competition for a coveted position = who will do the most in the least amount of time and likes to sell products. It's sad that we keep getting asked the question about our field and many looking at the "dollar" amounts they THINK they will receive....it's not reality in 2012 and beyond. The last sentence from above as to becoming an OM/TC or even maybe a DA are more likely to receive benefits, which you wish you would have as you become older. VET

Yes, but honestly when you're looking for the career you want to spend the rest of you're life doing, should you not make sure that the pay is something you can live with? But I don't just want to be a DH because of the pay, I thought it would be a interesting career, something that I could see myself doing and enjoying. But I do agree with you about the benefits, I may not think I need it now but I will later.

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exp in Hampton, New Hampshire

28 months ago

Hi KB, Unfortunately , many Dr.'s and the schools spin the DH field as one with work, good pay, etc...as for the govt/bls/online articles, BTW, all written IMHO, by those NOT in our field or care about whether we work or not...it's not a career anymore, it is a hard to find job with an unhealthy competition for a position. I have been in this field for 25+ yrs. and I HATE the fact that it has come down to being one of sales and a very scarce job. Whether or not you have a love of the dental profession , passion, etc., unless you have family and look just so and do twice as much as someone else, work the off hours and just hourly pay...also, there are so many unsuspecting young and retrains in this field really getting the wool pulled over their eyes and a big loan to repay...and....unable to find decent employers, pay, set hours and days they are able to count on weekly. Not a way to live your life. Sorry, but also concerned for those out the cost of programs and now job to go to.

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KB in Broadview, Illinois

28 months ago

Ok, I guess you all have done a very good job of convincing me not to go into dental hygiene. But I didn't get very many suggestions on what I should do instead. Not that it really matters becuase it seems like no matter what career I think about going into, I ask people that work in that career and I get the same answers, pay's not as good as it seems to be, no jobs, to many people going to school for it, long hours, hard work and not getting treated fairly. It's making me feel that no matter what I do unless the economy gets better soon there aren't any careers worth going into.

My mom works in real estate and she never once has she said she has loved her job, she loves her friends that work there and she used to love the pay, she used to get paid very well to do what she does, she used to get $1,000 bonus checks every Christmas. Now they have laid off almost 70% of her office, she has to do more work and gets paid less than she was making before to do it all. And on top of that the market is bad.

But real estate is still one of the top listed careers that is supposed to do well in the next few years,so it accounting, which my dad does so I know about the cons in that career.

My point is, there don't seem to be jobs anywhere, and everyone is getting pay cuts and cheated out of their money. So if I shouldn't do dental hygiene because of those same reasons plus benefits, then what should I do that won't be that way?

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KB in Broadview, Illinois

28 months ago

exp in Hampton, New Hampshire said: Hi KB, Unfortunately , many Dr.'s and the schools spin the DH field as one with work, good pay, etc...as for the govt/bls/online articles, BTW, all written IMHO, by those NOT in our field or care about whether we work or not...it's not a career anymore, it is a hard to find job with an unhealthy competition for a position. I have been in this field for 25+ yrs. and I HATE the fact that it has come down to being one of sales and a very scarce job. Whether or not you have a love of the dental profession , passion, etc., unless you have family and look just so and do twice as much as someone else, work the off hours and just hourly pay...also, there are so many unsuspecting young and retrains in this field really getting the wool pulled over their eyes and a big loan to repay...and....unable to find decent employers, pay, set hours and days they are able to count on weekly. Not a way to live your life. Sorry, but also concerned for those out the cost of programs and now job to go to.

Thank You, I understand what you are saying, I'm just really confused about what I want to do now.

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KB in Broadview, Illinois

28 months ago

Ellen, RDH in Clinton, Massachusetts said: Hi KB,

As an older unemployed RDH, I would strongly recommend you don't pursue dental hygiene. The field is flooded with hygienists with and without experience. For every job posted there are dozens of applicants. I loved my job when I had one, loved my patients and excelled at what I do, but I was let go so the SOB I worked for could hire someone just out of school at a cheaper rate. It is nearly impossible to find a "full" time job so you are very unlikely to get health insurance , vacation, or holidays.
If I had it to do over again, I would have chosen nursing, PT or some other medical field.
If I sound bitter, I guess I am. I am so discouraged by the lack of responses to my resumes. The interviews I have had I'm told they will get back to me after they interview the next 20 or so applicants!
I just spent well over $1600 to get my local anesthesia license, but so far that has not made a difference!
Look long and hard at the availability of jobs in your area before you commit to a dental hygiene career. Whatever you choose, best of luck to you.

Thank You, it's nice to hear from people who have been in the DH field and can tell me how it really is. I guess I just have to do a little more research until I find something that will work for me and be worth my time, hard work and money. Thank You

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exp in Hampton, New Hampshire

28 months ago

KB in Broadview, Illinois said: Thank You, I understand what you are saying, I'm just really confused about what I want to do now.

Hi KB, If you are still in school (HS?), see if the school's career/guidance counselor can help you...where do your interests lie? You do want to think about benefits in any career choice. I understand many fields are having a rough time, but even so, a benefit pkg of some kind is better than nothing at all. If pay in a field is less than you want, but you can advance in that career, that is also , a give and take. Benefits...very important, esp. as you get older. Unless you have a health account, where the $ can ONLY be used for medical....and you save well, now, each week out of your payck...it will be a difficult road. GL on your search . VET

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Maya in Chicago, Illinois

28 months ago

I graduated a year ago and for the first few months worked 2 days a week and could not find anything more. Later I got a day at another office and now additional days at a third office. I had to quit from one place just because I could not manage all those positions, since the days started to overlap. What I'm saying is that, yes the marker it over saturated but don't give up. I currently work 30+ hrs a week, make $35 and enjoy working for those 2 offices. The dentists are super nice. I honestly can say I love my job! Good luck

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Sarabelle in Staten Island, New York

27 months ago

Never let anyone discourage you from anything! I have been a dental hygienist for five years and I have to say I genuinely love it. Every job has disadvantages, but if you truley are passionate about what you do then it does not matter. For four years I worked two part time jobs, which added up to about 50 hours per week. The money is great and I worked a little bit harder to be able to pay out of pocket for my medical benefits. I now work a full time job 4lol days a week WITH medical benefits and paid vacations.

Ypu could either choose a career you hate bc the grass seemed a little greener, or you could work a little harder at doing something you love. They say if you honestly love what you do then you will never work a day in your life.

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Desertgem in Tucson, Arizona

26 months ago

I have worked for the same Dental office for over 10 years. It is a two dentist office with 2 full time and 1 part time hygienist. We make $37 an hour with medical coverage and a 401K plan, plus paid vacation. When you have patients that your see every 4 to 6 months a year your become friends with them and this is a joy. As a hygienist I work independently and interact with the dentists only during hygiene checks and perhaps during lunch break. We work 4 nine hour days followed by a 3 day weekend ( very nice). The work is physical but I wear loops ( magnifying glasses) and am constantly changing my position around the patient. I have no neck or back issues. Unfortunately the job market is tight. But jobs in general are scarce. My oldest daughter is a hygienist and works one day a week and so can be home with her two small children the other days. Her husband is a police officer and has medical benefits. My youngest daughter is starting Hygiene school next month and is very worried about the job market but she is unhappy with her present job in the financial field. It may take her a year or so but I am confident she will find a job. This is a great career for a young mother since you can work part time. The hours are great as well as the money. If you do hygiene and decide this is not for you, you can work part time while you pursue another career. Good Luck to you!

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LA in Modesto, California

25 months ago

Hello, I'm beginning senior year in high school very soon and as application deadlines for colleges and universities come closer, I'm feeling more and more pressured to pick a career to go after. My dream job is to become a graphic designer but seeing as to how competitive that job is, I decided to settle for something else less "risky" and maybe go after graphic design in the future when I can afford it more.

My other choices right now are nursing and dental hygiene. I researched dental hygiene and statistics(bls.gov, o*net) show it has a good growth outlook, but after reading so many disheartening comments on this website from actual dental hygienists I'm now unsure about it pursuing it too. Every job has its pros and cons but dental hygiene looks like its cons weigh heavier than its pros.

I like helping people and working with my hands, so I think either dental hygiene or nursing would be alright for me. One problem I have with nursing is I don't know if I'll be able to tolerate the amount of stress; other than that, I'm totally okay with cleaning up after others and seeing blood.

For those of you who are years ahead in education and careers, can you please offer some advice on making the best choice?

I apologize for the long post, I hope it wasn't boring!
Thank you:)

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Superfluous RDH in Ottawa, Ontario

25 months ago

LA:
Hygiene is really, really stressful. Stress comes from the patients,(late for appointments, nervous, unwilling to cooperate, hair-trigger gag reflexes,etc.) the dentist (late to do checkups, nit-picking, and any DH could add lots more to this) front desk (not complying with requests for scheduling,lack of communication, scheduling mistakes,etc.) other office personnel with very bad attitudes, lack of teamwork, office politics, and so on. Hygiene isn't unionized, so there is very little to protect you if something bad happens in the office. The only thing you can do is quit and try to find something else.
Hygiene is stressful because there are fewer and fewer jobs. I don't think the gov't stats reflect the present situation. (You might want to consider their source of info.) Schools will tell you that all is rosy, but they need your money, period. If you get a job, your hours aren't guaranteed. There are few to no benefits. If you can't work--for whatever reason--you don't get paid. It may not be a consideration now, but if you have a family later on and have a sick kid that needs to be taken to a doctor, you won't be compensated for that day.
Look into nursing or anything else, really. Don't feel rushed to make a decision right now. Can you look into some career counseling at school? See if you can do interest/aptitude tests and see where your talents lie. You never know what you'll discover about yourself. Good luck!

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Cerritos College Grad in Placentia, California

25 months ago

LA in Modesto, California said: I'm totally okay with cleaning up after others

I can tell that you already have a wonderful attitude because I'm sure some RNs believe that CNAs are responsible for "cleaning up."

I personally would rather deal with blood and saliva instead of feces and vomit.

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

25 months ago

Depending on where you end up working, there may be a market for it. Right now in the Southern Ontario area, there are no hygiene jobs, and because of that dentists are being jerks and offering very low wages. I saw an ad the other day for $32/ hr, I was making $40 back in 2007. I've been out of a job for over a year now, just temping, and even those positions are scarce. If I moved to a remote area I would have more luck getting work, but I don't want to move. Also, I have worked in public health and loved it, but it's very hard to get into, and all those positions these days are contract based. I've had mostly negative experiences working in the private sector. I see ads for various nurse jobs all the time. I remember before going back to school for hygiene, I was considering nursing, and I wish I had done that instead, not only because there is a demand for nurses, but because there is so much potential and variety of work.
I know a couple of hygienists who started their own mobile clinics, so if you're up for that, it may be not so bad. I know I sound negative, but the things I've had to deal with in this profession are unbelievable. I've heard good things about hygiene from people working in British Columbia.
I've decided that I'm quitting hygiene, as in I won't be renewing my registration for next year. I am also planning on going back to school, either f/t or p/t to update my arts degree. Best wishes on whatever you choose.

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

25 months ago

Not all nursing jobs are about cleaning feces and vomit.

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RDHCJ in Connecticut

25 months ago

Actually the training to become an RN involved cleaning feces and vomit. The nursing colleges make RN students learn what CNA and LPNs do and then you move on to more advanced RN duties such as giving injections. So if you can't handle vomit and feces then don't be an RN or LPN or CNA.
I do not like RDH profession after graduating and not being able to find work. Also after dealing with many not so friendly dentists it has made me regret becoming a RDH.

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jill in Conyers, Georgia

24 months ago

KB in Broadview, Illinois said: Hi, I have really been considering becoming a RDH, it sounds like something I would be really interested in and the pay isn't bad, and the schooling isn't very long. I was almost certain I wanted to do it. But I got on this site and there are just too may people that complain about being a Hygienist. About 90% of people are saying they hate it!!!

Is it really that bad? Can no one honestly say anything good about being a RDH? I see most people are complaining because they have to clean and stand on their feet all day but I work in grocery store right now where they just treat everyone so horrible. Nothing anyone is complaining about the cleaning , standing on their feet, getting yelled at, no hours...ect isn't anything I don't have to deal with now. And at least if I'm a hygienist I'll be getting paid about $30 an hour to do it compared to the $8.25 I make now.

I don't know... I just really can't imagine it being as bad as working in that store for the rest of my life.

But I'm graduating High School this month and I just wanted to know is it even worth going to school to be a Dental Hygienist ? Is it really that much hell? No one likes being a Dental Hygienist at all? Not even a little? Is there nothing good about it?

Thought about being a accountant , or a medical assitant should I just do one of those instead?

I don't hate hygiene because I love the patients..however in this economy the dentists are struggling to make a living which means we struggle to make a living. Most offices offer no retirement, no benefits etc. I have been a hygienist for ten years and had I known what I know now then I would have never gone to school for this. There are some really great dentists out there that value their long term employees and value a "seasoned" hygienist , however these doctors are few and far between. Think very carefully before you choose a career in hygiene.

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Anne in Maryland in Maryland

23 months ago

I don't hate being a hygienist, I love it. I have worked at same office for 20 years. We have vacation, medical benefits and paid holidays. I have ample time with patients too. I have heard that there is an abundance of RDHs out there. It wasn't that way when I graduated. We were the ones holding the barrel over the dentists heads, LOL. We could demand whatever pay we wanted and dictate how much time we wanted with patients. Back then we had all the power. I think there are many hygienists who will be retiring soon as there must be some kind of cycle to this. Maybe I should be thankful that I work in a really fun office.

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exp in Massachusetts

23 months ago

Anne in Maryland in Maryland said: I don't hate being a hygienist, I love it. I have worked at same office for 20 years. We have vacation, medical benefits and paid holidays. I have ample time with patients too. I have heard that there is an abundance of RDHs out there. It wasn't that way when I graduated. We were the ones holding the barrel over the dentists heads, LOL. We could demand whatever pay we wanted and dictate how much time we wanted with patients. Back then we had all the power. I think there are many hygienists who will be retiring soon as there must be some kind of cycle to this. Maybe I should be thankful that I work in a really fun office.

I do not agree with "many RDH who will be retiring soon..." because they cannot afford to, the pay has gone back to that of 10 yrs. ago, the hours, days, etc. are not set, retirement accounts have dwindled...this is for a start, of why the cycle will not happen readily . I'm glad to see that you have a decent employer. I have never , personally, asked for an outrageous hourly pay, not to say you are saying this , but, the whole field is to the point of cutthroat not colleague and "Millish" now. Very sad to see many practices going this route. I work for a couple of decent Dr.'s and staff members, but only PT, not because I want too, but because of how our field is now. I like what I do, but there is not enough work for everyone in this field. I plan on working for another 15+ near to being a senior at that time....but, we'll have to see what happens as the years come and go as to dispensible and replaced for "whatever reason they choose"...very sad state. Go for another major and ck out threads and sights like this were most speaking to you TELL you what's happening NOW...not GOVT/Bls/articles/a couple of RDH's set in offices....not reality and a costly learning experience where you don't want to have to spend another 25,000-45,000 again while paying back present loans. VET

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123 in Laval, Quebec

23 months ago

I don't know why so many people are having problems, but I graduated this past may and easily found jobs. Within the first month I was working 5 days / week. I had to tell one office to give me less days because I was too stressed at work. I love hygiene is a lot of fun. After a few months you get good at it and patients start to like you. At this point it is rewarding. People on this forum scared me when i was in school. And there are many other things that people can do with a hygiene degree. I had been approached by public health and equipment companies. As a matter of fact all of my classmates, 23 of us, Are working and many are working 30+ hours/wk. if you work hard and polish your personality during school, you will be successful and have joy.

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

23 months ago

I don't know what the dentists are like in Quebec, it's great that 123inLaval found a job she enjoys so much. I haven't been looking at job posts outside of Ontario lately, but I remember seeing a lot for Quebec when I was contemplating moving, and they all paid under $30 an hour, some were low to mid 20s and asked for experience. I started with 35/hr (no experience) in 2005, some of my classmates started with more. Pay, as well as job availability, depends on location. Pay also depends on the dentist, some are cheap even in fancy neighbourhoods, and even if they charge patients well above the fee guide.

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Wen in Murrumbeena, Australia

19 months ago

Hey, I'm an oral health therapist in Melbourne, Australia. I came from the first few batches of university oral health degree where they combine both hygiene and therapy.....the first two years were good in the sense that it was my first real job, it was interesting to me, and is well paid in comparison to many other three year degrees, free dental service/heavily discounted etc. but it gets repetitive and by the end of the day I was ready to stab anyone with my curettes. That was my main concern- that I didn't want to be stuck in something so boring and repetitive for the rest of my life- so I've went back to school to do medicine. But in saying that, most jobs are like that- a monotonous routine. It comes down to how you make it interesting for yourself? I try to get my dentist to mix it up for me so I'm not doing the standard scale and clean every 45mins....however, I know new grads are finding it hard to get jobs, and the pay rate is definitely a lot lower now than when I was working. Also, it doesn't help that every uni is jumping on bandwagon and cranking out hygienists (I heard of one school that only requires one year? To me that is plain ridiculous).
But now that I'm back in uni, I think if this is the right path to take...and whether I should have stuck it out, do part time for the money (and seeing patients itself is rewarding sometimes, some of my patients were pretty awesome!) and perhaps venture into something else on the side-business or whatever I'm interested in.
I think ultimately the pros outweighs the cons- you don't have to do it full time (most people burn out after a while) and what's stopping you from doing other stuff on your days off? I know plenty who mixes seeing patients with teaching, or doing interior design, catering etc.

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Mily in Florida

19 months ago

KB in Broadview, Illinois said: Wow,I don't know what to say about this informatation. I was almost postive that being a DH would be a good choice for me, but now I'm not sure. Honestly the only thing keeping me away is this new information about the benefits. Because the thing about there being no jobs, well there don't seem to be many jobs in any profession right now. I've looked into A LOT of careers other than being a DH, and when I talk to people that have those jobs they say there's no work, I look online at jobs in my area and nothing, for all them. So I'm not sure what to think of that just yet. I guess I'm just hoping that the economy will have picked back up again after I finish school.

Don't go for it, it's a dead end job, I should have done something else. I'm good at it but so much pressure with production etc......,

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slbyce in Palm Harbor, Florida

18 months ago

Ok, so I was one of those Hygienists who chose a career path that was not for her. I should have been an interior designer or something along those lines. Does anyone else have a hard time dealing with the lovely drs out there? I honestly think I have performance anxiety! I have been a hygienist for almost 13 years (took some time off in between those years) - actual practice time about 8 1/2 years. With the exception of my most favorite office in CO, I have worked for some arrogant, hard-pressure drs. To note, I have had several interviews in the Palm Harbor, FL area, and have turned down three. Low pay, long hours, one scientology office, and one self-professed "demanding" dr I did a working interview for - none of which I wanted anything to do with. I guess it comes down to the fact that I DO NOT have a passion for DH - not because I don't enjoy cleaning teeth, but because that's not what its about! What its really about is making as much money for the dentist as you can. Push, push, push, and race the clock. No thanks! But I really want to know - for you other RDHs out there - are you ok with all of that? Or perhaps you were blessed with a wonderful practice? I guess I need that extra push to say - "move on, and feel good about it" - because I really should be enjoying it shouldn't I?

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still retired in Texas

18 months ago

@ slblyce>> Hygiene has certainly changed..I have been through many ups and downs with this profession. Some offices are great.. some are just horrible. It has taken its toll on me at times and learning to ignore negative (at times.) Its like putting up a wall and letting all that happens at the workplace stay there..from bad behavior of staff to the BOSS! Still not easy for us who care for all our great pts and even the eccentric ones that come in....thats what keeps me in still... BECAUSE I CARE!!! Jobs are not great here and at my age I have to keep going....even when the wage/workdays of our profession is going down and is some-what dominated by what the "bosses want"....even the paper pushers... that makes me sad...Im passed angry.~~ VET

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Jami in Hollywood, Florida

18 months ago

KB in Broadview, Illinois said: Hi, I have really been considering becoming a RDH, it sounds like something I would be really interested in and the pay isn't bad, and the schooling isn't very long. I was almost certain I wanted to do it. But I got on this site and there are just too may people that complain about being a Hygienist. About 90% of people are saying they hate it!!!

Is it really that bad? Can no one honestly say anything good about being a RDH? I see most people are complaining because they have to clean and stand on their feet all day but I work in grocery store right now where they just treat everyone so horrible. Nothing anyone is complaining about the cleaning , standing on their feet, getting yelled at, no hours...ect isn't anything I don't have to deal with now. And at least if I'm a hygienist I'll be getting paid about $30 an hour to do it compared to the $8.25 I make now.

I don't know... I just really can't imagine it being as bad as working in that store for the rest of my life.

But I'm graduating High School this month and I just wanted to know is it even worth going to school to be a Dental Hygienist ? Is it really that much hell? No one likes being a Dental Hygienist at all? Not even a little? Is there nothing good about it?

Thought about being a accountant , or a medical assitant should I just do one of those instead?

No don't go gor hygiene!!!!!!! It's a dead end job, go for something else and if you can where you'll be your own boss ! Run !!!! B

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Jami in Hollywood, Florida

18 months ago

You're right, and they just should close those schools
It's all about money, sell this, place arestin,sell tbrushes, oxyfresh, varnish and I can go on and on
They evaluate you on your production, it's just not right !

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

18 months ago

This is in response to slbyce in Florida. On average we spend a third of our lives working; life is too short to do stuff that makes us feel negative. I resigned, like I said I would. Didn't renew my registration for this year. I am back in school, this is the 3rd time, but so what. My first degree has come in handy for the current post grad program I am doing. So far I love it, and I can't believe how friendly and sincere people are compared to dental. As much as dentists and their office managers are jerks, a lot of the hygienists are to blame for putting up with all the bs. I was always the one to refuse to do anything unethical, and demanding that I get breaks, and the response I'd get would be that "the other girls weren't complaining". If more DHs stood up for what's right, maybe the way we're treated would change. Complaining amongst yourselves doesn't change anything. I bet if DH was mostly men, they wouldn't allow themselves to be treated the way DHs are treated now. Anyway, I'm out of that mess and don't regret it. What has the CDHO done for DH? Seriously, DHs keep paying each year, and for what? To be unemployed, and mistreated when they do have a job. That pt job on Mondays I got last May, 5 min before my first shift, the receptionist told me that they'd pay me less than what we had agreed on in the interview. I said no, and how unbelievably unprofessional that was, so she backed down, but then after my second shift, they replaced me with someone cheaper, and didn't even say so, just that they would call me. They did eventually call to fill in, and I told them what I thought of them and to never call me again. The only private practice (associate) dentist I ever admired, told me that had he known what dentistry was like, he would've gone for something else. He has his own practice now, which is a good way to take charge of things. DH is equivalent to being a professional door mat.

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

18 months ago

Hi Jami,

Accounting sounds far more promising, whether you choose to work for a company, or be your own boss. One of my accounting friends - works for a huge company - plans on retiring at 45, he is married and has 2 kids, and his wife doesn't work. I have a couple of other friends who started their own accounting businesses and they're doing well. My parents' accountant works for himself, always has, and he chooses how much he wants to work now. I know you can start a DH clinic, but the overhead costs are so much higher than having an accounting business. Plus as an accountant, if you choose to move to another state, you won't have to write or do an exam before being able to practice.

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

18 months ago

They shouldn't have allowed for all those private schools to open up, most of which aren't even accredited, but the more hygienists graduating, the more registration money for the governing body. I remember when I was in hygiene school, and someone asked during a student meeting, why the tuition was so high, and why it went up 40% from the previous year, and basically we were told that it's because it can be high. They had so many applicants that they could charge ridiculous fees and they would still fill the seats. That was at one of the top hygiene schools in Canada. The whole so called "profession" disgusts me, but at least now I'm no longer a part of it. Grow some spines ladies, stand up for what's right. I'm not saying you have to quit, but don't let others treat you like trash. I was fired once for refusing time and again to over-bill, and that second time when the office didn't even have the guts to tell me I was being replaced with cheap labour. I quit lots of times, because I know I'm awesome and deserve better. Patients used to give me their phone numbers once they'd find out I was a temp, so that when I found a permanent clinic, to call them, so they'd follow me, so I know that if I opened my own clinic, I'd already have a patient base, but I don't want to work in dental any more. Take responsibility for your actions, don't just sit there and blame the dentist or manager for being a-holes. Stop telling yourselves that you're just taking orders, because that doesn't make you any less guilty. Think about whether you'll regret wasting so much effort being someone's door mat, once it is too late to change your life. Stop making excuses, if you want change start with yourselves.

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still retired in Texas

18 months ago

@ Alex. I dont complain anymore I just move on and if a dentist is unethical I document with no apologizes. We are a dime a dozen here in this state and SLOOOW moving for change. We will eventually get there, the bubble will burst on the oversaturation of our profession(in Texas). Being at a crossroads at my age is only moving me to do things more positive...its true we get tired of it(office politicsetc etc) and eventually move on to a secondary profession. Having years to even retire (if i Can lol) my mind has been on returning to school...ill still carry my license but not as proud as it once was to me~~~~vet

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slbyce in Palm Harbor, Florida

18 months ago

@Alex, I wish I could be so bold. Then I wouldn't go to work with a knot in my stomach every day worrying what the Dr is going to have to say to me today! Its just really not my thing, and I know that now. I do an excellent job cleaning, and my patients have all loved me. But as the Dr informed me at my working interview - "I can get spit suckers all day long"....I guess that's where cleaning is in his eyes!

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

18 months ago

slbyce, you can be that bold, because it's your life, and (scummy) people will treat you the way you let them. I worked with an assistant in public health who told me that she was sick every Sunday night at the thought of having to deal with our supervisor come Monday and the rest of the week. That's no way to live. Your stress is only having a negative effect on your health. I was only at that job for a one year contract, that woman had been there over 20 years and 6 years were with that poor excuse of a supervisor. After being there for a few months I observed our supervisor, who was a dentist, and made notes each time she did anything unethical, or otherwise improper, and worthy of noting, like racist comments, anger issues including throwing stuff and slamming chairs and doors, and other things which would add drama to a movie script. I filed a complaint, because she wasn't fit to work with kids, it took a while, but she was fired after a lengthy investigation. I wasn't even there any more at that point, but I still keep in touch with some of those co-workers, who were awesome and much older than me. Not all wars are worth fighting, but if someone or something is making you physically sick, you have to look at your priorities. Dentists are only people, most of them are jerks, but the point is that they are no better than you, especially if they try to make you feel as if they are. Your daily knots will one day manifest themselves in some illness, because that's what stress does over time. You either need to gather up the courage to stand up to your bully, or find another job, or profession.
Take care of yourself, cause no one else will.

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EllieCat in Kalamazoo, Michigan

18 months ago

@Alex, I admire you! You are so confident and don't let others walk all over you. Employers are really taking advantage of everyone these days because they know that they can. If we don't like it they know there are hundreds of other qualified candidates that will be happy to take our job. I'm not in the dental field but it's gotten really bad in my field as well. I actually came across this forum because I am trying to find something else to do with my life where I can make decent money but not have as much stress. It's too bad we allow ourselves to be treated horribly because we need to have a job. Maybe if everyone would stand up for themselves employers wouldn't take advantage of us. Maybe after they went through a lot of employees and spent all that money in training and hiring they would get the message and start to treat us better!

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

18 months ago

Hi EllieCat,
Thanx, but I haven't been writing for praises. I honestly believe that strength lies in numbers, and if we all valued ourselves more, we'd be treated better regardless of the economic situation or profession.
My current plan is to do something that I would love doing. I'm in school for something I enjoy, and I've started a little side business out of my passion, unrelated to what I'm doing in school. I also have a weekend job that pays peanuts, and I might have a second p/t job soon doing something I love, which also won't pay much (I have to call back my new potential employer), but I'm so much happier now than I had been in my DH jobs; even my friends have pointed that out. Once I'm done school, I will expand on my business, and freelance in my new field. I can't let myself regret that I never gave my dreams a try or that I wasted my life working my butt off for someone who didn't appreciate any of it. I'll be 40 in a few years and I can't believe how quickly time is passing by the older I get. I remember when I thought that I had all the time in the world.
All the best in figuring out your next move :)

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RP in Deer Park, New York

18 months ago

I am looking into the Dental Hygienist Career. Since I am young and have not kids, I was wondering if there are any areas that are in demand for Dental Hygienist. I rather move where a job is than settle for whatever is in my area. My parents did that, and it's how you start families away, at least that's what I think.

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RDHKMS in Grand Blanc, Michigan

17 months ago

@RP in Deer Park, I WOULD NOT GO INTO DENTAL HYGIENE AT THIS TIME!! There is a HUGE SURPLUS of Dental Hygienist across the map. I know of many Dental Hygienist that graduated 1-6 years ago that still cannot find a permanent job, many of them are working at Mcdonalds, CVS, Walmart, retail stores trying to pay off $25,000-$30,000 in student loans...some may be subbing occasionally. Dental Hygiene is a skilled trade...it takes practice, practice, practice until you become proficient as a Dental Hygienist, with that being said if a new grad does not land a job soon after graduating he or she WILL lose those skills very quickly. Unfortunately, starting out on a part-time basis(1,2 days a week, or subbing occasionally) is not enough exposure/experience in a dental office to truly be a good hygienist, again...this job requires consistent, practice, practice.
A little about me, I graduated from Ferris State University 23 years ago, I have worked full-time 4-5 days a week for 21 of those years. I was let go from my full-time position 2 years ago. I have sent out nearly 500 resumes or more in the last 2 years. I have had about 10 interviews and a few working interviews. The competition is fierce in the state of Michigan. Office managers and Dentist have told me the average # of applicants for a job on craigslist, indeed is around 250-300. One of the dentist in Plymouth, Mi said he had 25 working interviews! Last year, 2012, I worked with a temporary agency called Team Placement INC. in the Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, I was a travel Dental Hygienist. Needless to say, dental hygiene jobs are also scarce in that part of the country as well, I am back in Michigan working with a temp agency on average 2,3 days a week. It can be stressful, especially not knowing from one week to the next if I'm going to be working. My average commute is usually up to 1 hour.

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RDHCJ in Boston, Massachusetts

17 months ago

Cerritos College Grad in Placentia, California said: Dear KB,

In my opinion, being a dental hygienist is "hell" if you can't find work, work for a dentist who does not value or respect you, and/or work with chronic pain.

The current lack of F/T positions with benefits is a disadvantageous aspect of the field, but not in the above "hell" category.

I agree with you that dental hygiene is an interesting career and if you find the right dentists, they are a blessing to work for.

Want to know what I like about dental hygiene?
1) I get $45-55 an hour.
2) I get to meet and build long-term relationships with some of the nicest people in the area and see their oral health improve.
3) I actually find it fun to remove plaque and calculus. I always tell my friends that it was going to be either dental hygiene or removing blackheads.

If you enjoy going to the dentist would like to work for one, why not an office manager/treatment coordinator ? Many of them get F/T positions with benefits.

I gotta say the pay rate in Mass is 32-40 depending where you work. I have seen the pay as low as 28 per hour though! A recent article in RDH magazine did a report about pay rate and everyone reported their current wages are all lower than 45.

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RDHCJ in Boston, Massachusetts

17 months ago

RP in Deer Park, New York said: I am looking into the Dental Hygienist Career. Since I am young and have not kids, I was wondering if there are any areas that are in demand for Dental Hygienist. I rather move where a job is than settle for whatever is in my area. My parents did that, and it's how you start families away, at least that's what I think.

NO. There are no areas in the USA that are in major need of more RDHs. The job market is not going to get better. I graduated about 4 years ago and have not worked more than 2 days a week since graduation! And it took me over a year to find a permanent position. In the year post graduation I had to temp as a RDH in offices (such as when an RDH took a vacation, I filled in). Don't become a RDH unless you have a husband/wife to support you!

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exp in Massachusetts

17 months ago

RDHCJ....even if you do find work it's fill-in and have you noticed the temp. agencies now call alot more "the last minute" and call 4+ employees at a time...whoever gets to the phone first and has ALL the computer program skills for that office receives the coveted job for a day....I know that they do try to help us all out, but wish THE GOVT. would close programs or 1/2 them so all could work...I mean this for many fields...it's sad that so many are going to college and not being able to utilize the skills they have learned....but as we can see the GOVT. doesn't care and the schools will sell you on majors at their schools....can't believe that many keep asking about this field and believing the falicies ....very wrong, but reality is blinding...

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

17 months ago

@ exp,
The government isn't the one to blame, it's the governing bodies. In my case (before I resigned from the profession as of December 31st), it's the CDHO (College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario), the CDHA (Canadian Dental Hygienist Association), the ODHA (Ontario Denatal Hygienists Association). DHs pay all these membership fees, and for what, especially when it comes to the associations that are there for the hygienists, (vs the ones there to protect the public). They offer discounted gym memberships and car rentals, when they should really be doing more to protect the profession and it's members. I've worked in many different fields of work before going into hygiene, and I've never seen as much BS anywhere, and it's also the least professional, as much as they love to throw that word around.
Like I said before, anyone considering DH, don't waste your money or your time, unless you want to be a professional doormat, or constantly fight for what's right and be seen as a complainer because "the other girls aren't complaining", or if you want to open up your own clinic. The pay is no where what it used to be, and even if it was, with the amount of BS and the back pain, it isn't worth it. I know I sound negative, but I'm not, I'm always smiling even when discussing the unethical practices with the boss, and because I have a backbone, it pissed them off (the dentists and office managers). I just call stuff the way I see it. If after reading all the comments in here, someone still decides to waste their resources, you better be ready to grow a backbone, even if you think you already have one.

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

17 months ago

I still think the associations are the ones who should have prevented all those private unaccredited schools to open up, after all it is the associations that govern the profession and choose which schools are allowed to be accredited; they also know what the job situation is and they are there to make the "profession" better. And yes, we all need to pay bills, but there is no need to allow a boss to walk all over an employee. We live in countries with labour laws, and dentistry is not above them. From what I've seen in my 7 years was that hygienists would put up with whatever. There are other jobs out there, and even if you find a non-dental one that pays less, it may be better if it means you're not dreading going to work each day. I work 2 pt jobs now, while I'm in school, and yes they pay a lot less than DH did, but they're both way more fun, and the people I work with are great, my supervisor insists that I take a break, imagine that. I had to fight for breaks when I was a DH. In the end we all choose what we do with our lives, and if we want change, we gotta start with ourselves. Each time I remember that I resigned, I have an instant smile on my face.

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waterbug100 in Duncan, British Columbia

17 months ago

@Alex..you are absolutely right in blaming our associations..both federal and provincial. Because of a huge shortage of hygienists, the(CDO)dentists requested our associations help in resolving the situation. Our associations decided instead that they wanted to increase the criteria in becoming a hygieninst to a degree status thereby effectively increasing the shortage of hygienists.

They did not seem to realize that they were not an independant entity, but still very much under the auspices of the College of Dental Surgeons. So the dentists by passed them entirely and opened at least 34 independant schools..flooding the market.

And it's not the associations that decide which programs will be accredited..it's the province's job.

So now we have the sad situation of diluted programs, fast track multi entry schools and no pre requisits..

I also agree that dental hygiene was never a profession..it's a tech job at most. The profession thing was something drummed into our brains in school. Never was and certainly now, never will be.

I also don't know why we paid thousands of dollars to these pathetic people..every year for 17 years. Nothing in my time as a hygienist has changed period.

I did email them when the saturation started and they didn't even have the backbone to admit there was a problem. We owe them nothing. And if everyone did not pay their dues one year all at the same time, we might get their attention. Otherwise, they will continue to be as ineffective and out of touch as they have always been.

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

17 months ago

Hi waterbug100,
I always thought it was the provincial governing body (CDHO in ON) that accredited DH programs, but thanx for clearing that up. Even if the organizations aren't responsible for the accreditations, they could've fought against them and stuck up for their members/ registrants.

When I didn't renew my CDHA membership last October, I got a few email reminders, then finally one that said it was a final reminder, then another final reminder, and then a couple more. So maybe if you all didn't renew, it would get their attention.

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exp in Massachusetts

17 months ago

Hi WATERBUG*....how are you? Is your new job going well? You haven't been on here in a longtime....tell me, where you are...is it mandatory to be in the CDHO? In the states they want you to join, but I think it's money I can use elsewhere, since when I was a mem. of ADHA, we rec'd letters and magazines...no progress as to union or wage scale that would stay or go up or keeping an eye on schools/programs opening up everywhere = oversaturation of RDH's ...not relapse to 1990's wages. Unfortunately the young and retrains go by online info...and not listen to us hear unless it suits becoming an RDH....they are being taken advantage of and find when done with training...no employment and huge loans to payback and/or having to start from scratch again...ah, the techie age....don't believe the GOVT/BLS/schools/ online info. of the field and pay...ITS NOT THERE....blinders, not listening to those experiencing the economy and overabundance by RDH's of ALL AGES here....

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

17 months ago

Hi exp,
The CDHO (College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario) is the regulatory body for Ontario, we pay fees to them because we have to ($250 annually, or 350 if you miss the deadline), it's how we stay registered, they are the ones who check our portfolios. Without that membership a DH cannot legally practice in Ontario. Everything else is optional, but the CDHA (Canadian DH Association, country wide) provides liability insurance, plus they send out quarterly DH journals, the cost is about $185. We can choose to get liability insurance from a different source, but I always just stuck with CDHA, they have some resources on their site, a job board, and useless discounts as perks. A DH cannot practice in Ontario without liability insurance. I was never a member of the ODHA (Ontario DH Association), I felt that I was paying enough in membership fees and continuing education costs. Besides I still had access to their site, just not the members only section; I never felt like I was missing out. Looks like waterbug is from BC, I don't know their regulations. I worked on the east coast for a bit, and their fees were much lower, plus instead of a portfolio, they had to collect 12 hours of cont ed each year, and the info could be on anything dental related, not like the portfolio in ON, where a DH chooses a goal at the start of the year and then has to collect material related specifivally to that goal. 25 hours a year, and 75% has to be goal oriented.

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exp in Massachusetts

17 months ago

Hi Alex....this sounds similar to our licensing in the states. In the US, we don't have to be a member of ADHA or state associations, but every 2 yrs. we need to have 20 CEU's by a certain date. We can choose to have /buy Liability Ins., the Dental offices we work in have Liability ins. that covers employees, but those with Local Anesthesia Permits, should have there own Liab. Ins. because of that particular skill. Our states usually want the RDH to take 15 CEU's of clinical nature...which , here in MA/NH can be taken at a big convention we have each yr. in Boston, MA....the dental personnel decend upon MA for a weekend of fun, courses, entertainment , etc...and you can actually take some free CEU's if you plan it out well. I wish across the states the reciprocity factor , like that of Nursing would apply....each state has their own Board of Dentistry, so you need to do alot of paperwork and pay fees for each individual state, except at the begining in New England area...when you are fresh out of your program.....sounds like each area up there is like each state here.

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Alex in Toronto, Ontario

17 months ago

I wrote my American Board Exam around the same time as the Canadian one, but I never made use of it. I think it cost $500 and that included 3 states, any additional ones were extra. Since I had no plans of moving to the US at the time I stuck to the 3 limit, and chose California, Georgia, and Hawaii. I figured if I was moving south, I better feel it :) Of the 3, I've only been to GA, but the other 2 are on my travel list.

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