You have worked incredibly hard to get where you are as a dental hygienist, investing time and money into your degree, keeping current on professional development, and providing first-rate care within the four walls of a dental practice.
How satisfied are you?
If you don’t have complete fulfillment in your present role as a dental hygienist, what is leaving you unsatisfied? Are you looking for a change from the daily 9-5 humdrum in your office? Do you literally feel trapped in your op? Are you simply bored? Or maybe you are yearning for a chance to grow, lead, and feel empowered?
If you have not contemplated mobile dentistry as a career choice, consider that, right now. There are countless dental hygienists across the country and across the world who are living deeply fulfilling careers by bringing dental care to patients where they eat, sleep, work, learn, play, and pray. This care is not just offered to underserved individuals. Mobile health-care delivery is now sought out by consumers and has cemented itself as a key part of the for-profit marketplace.
It is completely possible that you can find precisely the career fulfillment you have been searching for by providing mobile services to the people who want and need it in your community right now.
Mobilizing to Where Care is Desired
Many dentists, dental therapists, and dental hygienists are choosing to embark on the career path of mobile dentistry for a combination of reasons. The portable delivery model has been proven successful by nonprofit and charity organizations for decades. For-profit dental organizations have recently been revamping their clinical model to include mobile services. The organizations meet their clients precisely where care is desired. On one hand, these companies use a pop-up business model to send clinicians into corporations with portable equipment. Another option is to use a hub-and-spoke model, parking spiffed-up dental vans on city streets. Thanks to a shift in cultural ideals and expectations, mobile healthcare is now in demand.
Imagine this one scenario among many. After your morning coffee, you make your way across town to the local university. You unpack a few pieces of portable dental equipment, some supplies, an iPad, and intraoral camera. You set up your “op” in a conference room, treat university students and faculty for a full day, and then pack up and head home. At the end of the week, you sit down with your supervising dentist to review patient assessments, charts, and notes.
You are happy because you are working on your own, with patients who are thrilled to have you, and in a fun environment that keeps changing. Your supervising dentist is thrilled because you are expanding her practice reach, marketing her brand in the community, sending restorative needs back to her practice, and opening up an operatory so she can hire another dentist.
Are your wheels churning yet? Has a spark been ignited within you? If yes, it is important to know where to begin. Here’s how:
- Get to know your state dental practice act. The very first place to start is by reading your state dental practice act. Study the dental hygiene scope and supervision levels. Dig into supervisory levels and definitions. Look for any mobile regulations. Some practice acts have many pages of regulations, and some have none. Research who can own a dental practice and who can employ or retain a dental hygienist. Look for keywords such as teledentistry, telehealth, and remote supervision.
- Check out any pending legislation. Don’t forget to check out pending legislation relating to hygiene scope, telehealth policies, or mobile delivery.
- Network, network, network. Reading the fine print of state practice acts and pending legislation may leave you more confused than ever, but the good news is there are many dental hygienists who have already paved the way before you. First, get to know mobile hygienists near you who can offer a clear picture of what is feasible in your state. Some resources to develop contacts in the industry are listed at the end of this article. Second, expand your reach and get to know mobile hygienists across the country! This can open your eyes to the possibilities on your horizon.
A great opportunity to learn and network is by attending the first annual National Mobile Dentistry Conference on February 28-29 in Orlando, Florida. Courses include topics such as what it takes to start a mobile program, access to care and health equity, the future of mobile and portable equipment, teledentistry, and state-specific regulatory information. This conference is designed for those with an interest in mobile services and also to bring together mobile dentistry gurus and pioneers with those who currently provide mobile services.
To learn more about the National Mobile Dentistry Conference, visit www.nmdconference.com
If you feel the urge to grow in your profession, play a leading role in developing new care modalities, serve patients who are excited to see you, and take on a new challenge, then perhaps it’s time to explore what mobile dentistry can mean to you. Study your state practice act, check out what’s happening on the legislative level, and network, network, network. A mobile world can bring your career endless opportunities!
Other resources include:
- I Heart Mobile Dentistry − A supportive online network of mobile clinicians from around the world, this Facebook group is useful to meet practicing mobile providers and product suppliers and also to receive product discounts. https://www.facebook.com/groups/IHeartMobileDentistry/
- Mobile Health Map − This online resource includes medical and dental organizations alike. It provides various tools and opportunities to network with colleagues across the country. https://www.mobilehealthmap.org
- Mobile Healthcare Association − This professional association is for mobile healthcare providers across the country and supports providers through advocacy, research, and education. Membership is paid. http://mobilehca.org