Is it worth it to become a dental hygienist?

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Dental in Newark, New Jersey

33 months ago

I have a BS in biology and am currently attending my first semester for a master's (as a non-matriculated student) in biomedical sciences. My ultimate goal is to become a dentist, but I am torn between continuing this master's or going back to undergrad and getting a BS in dental hygiene. I think the master's will help me get into dental school more than hygiene, but in the unfortunate case that I never am accepted into dental school (I'm going to be 27 next week...I think I'm already so old to go to professional school), then I was thinking that being a hygienist may be a back up plan for me since the master's is not very practical in any job market. I am already accepted to the accelerated hygiene program at UOP in CA, but that means I will be over $100k in debt by the end of the program (no federal assistance since I already have a bachelor's) and as I was looking through various job searches, there does not seem to be a very strong need for hygienists right now, which make me question the outlook in the future. Also, I've been reading forums and it does not seem that hygienists are very happy with being a hygienist.

Any help is much appreciated!

Oh, and I'm a male by the way...since I know that females completely dominate the field of dental hygiene. Maybe harder for me to find a job?

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Cerritos College grad in Placentia, California

33 months ago

Ah... so $100k for accelerated dental hygiene program. That's NUTS! Do you know how long it will take you to pay that off, even if you are employed?

You can do so much with a BS in biology. If you are already in a program for a master's, you must be pretty good with your studies. The possibilities are endless for you; why don't you consider more options in the health field?

By the way, I'm happy being a dental hygienist. I think a lot of the unhappiness of being a dental hygienist has to do with being stuck in an abusive/toxic workplace (which is not exclusive to just the dental hygiene field) and/or working full time (mental/physical fatigue and physical injury).

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Dentalist in Newark, New Jersey

33 months ago

Cerritos College grad in Placentia, California said: Ah... so $100k for accelerated dental hygiene program. That's NUTS! Do you know how long it will take you to pay that off, even if you are employed?

You can do so much with a BS in biology. If you are already in a program for a master's, you must be pretty good with your studies. The possibilities are endless for you; why don't you consider more options in the health field?

By the way, I'm happy being a dental hygienist. I think a lot of the unhappiness of being a dental hygienist has to do with being stuck in an abusive/toxic workplace (which is not exclusive to just the dental hygiene field) and/or working full time (mental/physical fatigue and physical injury).

That's a big reason why I'm reconsidering what my options are. The price tag is crazy for the short amount of time I'll be there, and I don't know if the pay off is even worth it. My BS in biology is pretty useless if I don't want to do research. I'm not too fond of research, and there are very few good jobs out there that where I can use my degree. I applied to jobs for two years, and received one interview where I was competing with 400 other people for 2 positions. I was using my RDA license during and after I graduated undergrad, but I can't do that for the rest of my life. I see that you've graduated from Cerritos...I know that it can get pretty competitive because it's cheap there. If you don't mind me asking, how is your pay at the office you work for? Is it full time or part time? I'm from Orange County, and wanted to work in socal or the SF bay area, but the job market for hygienists seems pitiful. To add to that, it seems like a lot of hygienists get burnt out so quickly. I know it can be tedious work, but I'm debating if the $100k is worth it. My grades in undergrad are far from stellar, so it makes me worried about getting into dental school, and I need a backup plan.

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trypanosoma in Washington, District of Columbia

33 months ago

I might not answer your questions but want to address hygienists not being very happy with being a hygienist. My friend works for AADCOMS from Temple DS and I've seen him talk to MANY students in your position. I know you chose biology as your major because that's the major dental schools recommend for pre-dent students, but if you ultimately want to be a dentist, dental schools will not be impressed by the dental hygiene route. You got rejected for either a low DAT or non-stellar GPA and all it takes is to get a good GPA in your MS program and you will get in. If you really want to do dental, complete your program.
You pointed out that you're from OC and want to work in SoCal or the SF Bay area. The RDH in CA can't find a job because it's like you not getting in dental school... oversaturation. It's just as tough for a dentist to work in CA... they need to pass their state boards with an 85%, which is TOUGH, (every other state is 75%) and the DS graduates are complaining as much as RDH graduates. This also explains why it's not an advantage to be a CA resident when applying to CA dental schools, because of oversaturation. Other states prefer taking their own residents, except CA. There are many posts that dental graduates are struggling with the boards so these negative posts aren't just in hygiene, it's also dental.
You're an RDA so you've been around an RDH (depending on office). Can you picture yourself doing this? I am in hygiene and I love it! (Then again I didn't make hygiene a back up plan.) Dental hygiene itself is great, patients don't want to sue us, we have more flexibility, we have less stress, it's like nurses for dental. In CO, hygienists can even own their own practice and be their own boss! A male friend (RDH) moved to CO just for this and he says it's like being a dentist. There are many dental hygiene programs in CA so no need for UOP. Do Cerritos, PCC, anywhere else for much cheaper. Look into RDH (extended functions?), that might suit you.

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RDHCJ in Boston, Massachusetts

32 months ago

Do not go into dental hygiene. There are very few jobs available now and most are part time only with NO benefits (not even sick days. You call out sick and you do not get paid and might even get replaced!)! Good, nice to work for dentists are hard to find. And in a bad economy the first thing people do is STOP getting their teeth cleaned and you end up laid off cause the dentist has to take over the cleanings since the patient load is lower. Try nursing or anything else!

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r.i(h in Nashua, New Hampshire

19 months ago

Its funny that several of you mentioned nursing. One person mentioned that be a RDH is similar to being a nurse- I must tell you, I hate being a nurse. I have my BSN, and the same issues are arising for nurses, easily replaced was mentioned, the value on an experienced nurse is gone it seems. Hospitals would rather hire a brand new graduate for 1/3 less the salary... They may be saving money, but, ultimately they are sacrificing patient care. And, if you desire to move forward, the requirements have changed.... Previously, a BS in Nursing was sufficient, if you had the requisite experience, to obtain a MS in Nursing and practice as an ARNP... no longer the case, now they wants ARNP's to hold a Doctorate? However if you compare the educational outlines, all they have done is add one year, making the program three years in length (FT) however the courses you complete in that third year, have NOTHING to do with the practice of an ARNP, they are related to informatics (this particular course, also available as a MS in Nursing concentration might be nice for the person who obtains the job, but you now the enemy of every nurse in the building, they strive to INCREASE patient ratios etc...)
\I am almost 35, and have been in nursing since I was 16 (varying levels of course.) I can honestly tell you I am burnt out from nursing. I applied to 11 schools to become an ARNP, but am loosing my momentum toward that as well. With the debt I would be looking at, but the same pay or even less.... crap hours, on call etc.... Id be ecstatic if I am accepted into a DH program. I will gladly take a position working 20 hours per week making over $30/hr. What it comes down to is this, does your personality fit with the job description, when you are 85 and look back at your life, what do I want to be remembered for, me- being a dad... I decided to look at what career is most likely to continue growing, jobs are available, and the pay is decent in comparison to the hours worked= RDH!

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exp in Massachusetts

19 months ago

r.i(h....Many, the majority in my opinion in the DH field have a hard time even finding "20 hours" weekly that is set and the pay in going down in many areas....even if as a Nurse you receive less hourly pay you receive "BENEFITS" wh/ for us is a needle in a haystack. To train and pay the outrageous amount of money for DH now....as for younger people getting the job for half the pay....it's sad that it has come to cut-throat , etc. to obtain employment. This is where you might, since you are in Nursing, look to your union...btw, RDH's DON'T have this or ever will because of the Dr.'s . ADHA has not helped us as a profession to put any legislation in effect....if they did and we had something to lean on for work related issues their membership would be up...until they can do for us...many don't even have the money to pay for membership...so....training in the DH field now....don't think employment is readily there. VET

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