Are you burned out from working traditional, clinical dental hygiene day in and day out? Let’s be real, full-time clinical hygiene is hard on the body, mind, and soul! Even though dental hygienists love the satisfaction of a perfectly scaled tooth and enjoy interacting with patients, clinical practice takes a toll on our entire being.
When was the last time you evaluated your personal strengths? When was the last time you considered that your dental hygiene degree could take you many places out of the clinical op? Let this be a newsflash and a pivotal moment in your career—no matter how short or how long that career has been: Dental hygienists are no longer confined to just clinical duties! Instead, we are leading initiatives, managing teams, directing programs, advising policy, influencing legislation, and bridging the medical-dental divide. You too can do more!
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed innovative roles that dental hygienists play—working in medical settings, serving as an independent coach or consultant, even owning or managing a dental program. Though the list is truly endless, here we continue our discussion of just a few more ways dental hygienists can maximize the potential of their degrees:
Product educator positions are highly sought after and are great for earning extra income. They usually work directly for a company and will be the face of the company, lead lunch and learn programs within their region, or even host webinars. Product educators are not necessarily sales people. Instead, they play critical roles in educating consumers on specific products or brands. Being a product educator is a great way to get to know dental professionals in your local area.
All it takes is a brief scroll through your social media newsfeed to discover which of your friends is already a brand ambassador. Brand ambassadors usually work as independent contractors and many times receive a commission from direct product sales. Known for their persuasive social media posts, brand ambassadors are self-motivating and typically rely on this work for supplemental income.
Being an educator is nothing new, but what is new is that dental hygienists are no longer limited to working strictly in dental hygiene educational programs. Instead, we now play important roles in educating dentists, dental assistants, and most recently, dental therapists. Don’t have an advanced degree? No problem, simply seek out roles as a clinical instructor. Educational programs have even been known to let you make your way through an advanced degree while you work for them.
Key Opinion Leader (KOL)
This catch-all term can mean many things—from promoting products on social media, to product placement in magazine articles, to endorsing companies during lectures and seminars, and more. A KOL is generally well-known and respected within their particular niche. Similar to the Kardashians and other celebrity influencers, a KOL will have “a following” and can easily, and naturally, influence their audience.
OSHA Outreach Trainer
Let’s face it, working with OSHA certainly isn’t for everyone! But if you find yourself enjoying checklists and understanding compliance issues, then this may be for you. OSHA Outreach Trainers are self-employed and must complete required coursework to be authorized by the Department of Labor. Trainers educate dental teams in their workplaces and can also cover topics such as radiation safety and HIPAA compliance.
Take a moment to pause and reflect on your strengths. What do you love to do? What ignites a spark within? Then begin to network with hygienists who have already embarked on interesting alternative career paths: get to know them, ask questions, and promote yourself.
The dental industry is always changing—and more importantly—the dental hygiene profession is on the forefront of this change! Reach for the stars… your degree in dental hygiene can and will take you places!