Are you starting to doubt your dental hygiene career? How many times have you found yourself going back and forth asking, “Is this the right career for me?” Do you struggle with finding fulfillment from your job because you’re so exhausted?
We commit to the dental hygiene profession because we love what we do. We love being educators. We love to form connections with dental patients, and we love having a sense of purpose.
When your dental hygiene job is pulling you in 10 different directions daily, however, it can be hard to remember why you started in the first place. Here are a few ways to get back to loving what you do.
1) Find Structure
Dental hygienists are used to working on a very structured schedule. Typically, one patient every hour is what we are used to, and when that doesn’t go as planned, the rest of the day is chaos.
It’s important to schedule your hobbies as well. Whether you are working two days a week or five days a week, find time to do something you love. I love to stay active. It’s a way I release stress and just clear my head of the million thoughts running through my mind every day. At the beginning of my career, I dedicated one hour of my time right after work to just hitting the gym to release some endorphins. I don’t have the energy now that I used to have, so my days off are when I’ll dedicate that time.
It’s not about disciplining yourself. It’s about finding what works best for you so you can constantly keep doing it. Think of it as a continuous reward for yourself.
2) Go Where You’re Appreciated
Find a dental office and staff who appreciates all your hard work! You are not a robot. You are not here to solely boost production. You are human.
I can’t stress the importance of finding a great “dental family” to work with. Job opportunities may be plentiful, but great offices may be hard to come by.
Never be afraid to leave an office where you don’t feel appreciated. Just as much as you need to be a good fit for them, they need to be a good fit for you. Being in an environment where you’re wanted, appreciated, and happy makes it a lot simpler to remember why you chose this career.
3) Start Thinking Outside of the Box
In order to find joy in something, you sometimes need to remember what it’s like not to have it. Scaling back a few days of clinical hygiene has helped me fall in love with my career all over again.
Find a side hustle, start a business, get out of the role of hygiene for a few days a week (whether it be temporarily or permanently) to find meaning again. If doing something other than clinical hygiene is something that you’re not interested in, temping is also an option for a change of scenery. The feeling of being stuck and boxed-in can sometimes cause us to experience burnout without even knowing it.
In closing, you may not be tired of your career; you may just be in an office that does not share the same patient standards as you. Don’t be fearful of finding joy in other places or breaking out of the stereotype of what a “typical hygienist” is to help you get back to loving what you do. Before surrendering to your thoughts of uncertainty and deciding to step away completely from a career you’ve worked so hard for, it’s worth putting in the effort to fight for it.