Ask Kara RDH: Should I Stay at My Current Office or Move On?

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I’m a new grad. When I first was hired, my employer promised me 3-4 days a week, if not more. There are currently two hygienists, and they hired me as the third. I was filling in for a maternity leave, but since the office was expanding, he was going to keep me. Now that the other hygienist is back from maternity leave, he told me since he has a certain amount of chairs open, he’s going to pick the better hygienists to fill the first two chairs. He said obviously I was not one of the better hygienists. Now I will only be working one day a week since I am not “the best.” He also said I am not fast enough with finishing a new patient in one hour which includes exam, FMX, charting, and treatment planning all in one visit. I also missed a little piece of calculus on one patient and a little stain on another. He brought it up as if it’s the end of the world. He also brought up that I didn’t open up contacts on a radiograph even though I explained to him that the patient has overlapped and crowded teeth (he could see himself during the exam too). I am just overwhelmed and don’t feel like I am a good hygienist. It is wearing me down, and I’m not happy in being there. Should I stay or should I go?

I have learned from experience that being promised certain things, then the doctor not delivering on those promises, is a big red flag. I’m going to assume that you took this job because you needed 3-4 days a week. If you’re not getting that, it may be time to look for another office that can fulfill this need.

About the criticisms: my question would be, was it constructive criticism or was more it along the lines of belittlement? Does the doctor do the same to the other two hygienists or are you being singled out? If you are being singled out for mistakes that the other hygienists get away with, I question if it’s truly constructive criticism. I don’t think anyone should be making you feel like you aren’t a good hygienist, however, really take a step back and question if the doctor is trying to help you become even better or just making you feel bad. No matter how long you have been a hygienist, we all make mistakes like not opening contacts or leaving a piece of calculus or stain. Again, pointing this out as constructive criticism is one thing, but anything else is uncalled for.

If this office is wearing you down and making you unhappy, it doesn’t sound like it is your “forever office.” It is ultimately your decision, but I always encourage finding an office that makes you love what you do.

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Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP
Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP, is a Co-founder and the Chief Content Officer of Today’s RDH. Kara is a writer of popular articles that share practical advice and tips for hygienists, all in an informative and entertaining way. Beyond light-hearted content, Kara writes researched articles on topics in dental hygiene that educate hygienists on best practices and current protocols.

A graduate of the Oregon Institute of Technology, Kara has a deep passion for spreading knowledge about the importance of oral health and how it relates to the entire body. Kara’s passion extends to helping other hygienists understand the latest protocols, products, and research — all with the goal to push the profession forward.

Kara lives in Vancouver, WA with her fiancé Ben, and their rescued Chihuahua fur-babies, Bug & Lily. Beyond her love of dental hygiene, Kara enjoys spending time with her family, riding the Oregon dunes on her quads, and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest and all it has to offer.