Are You Acting Like a Prima Donna Hygienist?

We’ve all worked with that person who acts as if they know everything. They speak in a condescending tone and are convinced they are 100% correct at all times. We all know that disgusted, irritated feeling we get when encountering these types of people. But have you stepped back and asked yourself whether you’ve been acting like that?

It’s always easy to notice such annoying qualities in other people, but you may be displaying some of these qualities yourself, without even knowing it! The following are a few tips for figuring out if you have possibly been acting like a prima donna hygienist at work.

Always remember one thing:

Regardless of what role you have in the office, everyone’s work is valuable & essential.

Remember, tasks are being done in the background that you may not even be aware of that are helping you perform your job efficiently.

When working as a hygienist, it can be quite easy to place the work you do on a pedestal, viewing it as more important than a dental assistant’s duties, per se. It can be easy to stick to only doing the tasks that you have assigned, disregarding your coworkers’ need for help. Doing this, however, could make people view you as being condescending and even arrogant without ever telling you.

It’s important to look at yourself and how you’re acting to catch yourself when you’re slipping.

Some of the questions you can potentially ask yourself include whether you’ve ignored a coworker’s request for assistance in whatever it is they might be doing or ask yourself if you’ve ever ignored a minor task because you think it’s “below you” or “not your job.” If you find out that you have in fact done these things, then the people around you may have noticed this as well.

So the question is: what do you do? Though you may feel as though it’s difficult to change people’s views of you, it’s not impossible with a bit of genuine effort. The first thing is to ensure that you’re not making anyone else’s job harder in the office. For instance, are you leaving the stocking of your operatory to another hygienist or dental assistant? If you use it, you can stock it.

The second thing you should do is start showing respectful gestures to everybody in the office, no matter your history. People are much more likely to give you respect if they are receiving it from you. Also, don’t expect your co-workers to drop everything they’re doing to simply help you; in other words, be independent and make sure you take care of your tasks. This shows that you are a hard worker and willing to pull your own weight. Co-workers are more likely to give you a helping hand if you reciprocate.

Actively pulling your weight and being respectful towards your co-workers and their work will make your working environment much more comfortable and enjoyable.

In doing so, you and your co-workers may even find yourselves working together more efficiently.

And if anything, remember this: set the example. Don’t wait for other people in your office to start being respectful. Instead, change any negative attitudes or behaviors that you display and strive to be the best version of yourself. Not only will you feel your absolute best, but those around you will be inspired to do the same. And even if you have some people not following your lead, don’t worry! A majority of your co-workers and patients will come to respect you, and you’ll find yourself in a more cohesive and friendly work environment.

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Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP
Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP, is a co-founder and the chief content officer of Today’s RDH, an independent educational publishing company for dental hygienists, encompassing articles, a podcast, virtual continuing education events, and self-study continuing education. Today’s RDH was launched in 2018 after Kara built her social media presence with her largest following on her Facebook page, Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH, which was created in 2013. An Oregon Institute of Technology graduate, Kara has a deep passion for spreading knowledge about the importance of oral health and its association with systemic health. Kara’s passion extends to helping other hygienists understand current protocols and evidence-based research – all with the goal of lifting dental hygienists and the dental hygiene profession. Kara was recognized in 2020 as one of the Top 100 Women in Media for her entrepreneurship as a co-founder of Today’s RDH. In 2022, she was recognized by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association for their Standout Seven Award in the Entrepreneur category. Kara lives in Vancouver, Washington, just outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Ben, and their four Chihuahuas. When she’s not working, Kara loves riding the Oregon Dunes on her quad, spoiling her Chihuahuas, and spending time with her close-knit family.