How to Get a Job as a Dental Hygienist Before Graduation?
Ashley Shadd is a recent graduate of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygiene at MCPHS University in Worcester and one of the of the girls that run the adventuresinhygiene Instagram account (make sure to follow!). Let’s see how she was able to find a job before she graduated and what’s the working world like!
Hi, my name is Ashley and I’m a recent graduate of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygiene at MCPHS University in Worcester (whoot, whoot!) and I’m here to talk about what happens after graduation!
This process wasn’t made super clear to me in hygiene school and that’s partially because everyone has different circumstances after graduation, but I do want to share my experience as well as a bit of advice. After graduation, I found that my fellow classmates, and myself, were all sort-of asking one another the same type of questions, “have you finished all of your boards?”, “do you have a job yet?”, and “what do we do now?” To make matters worse, family and friends began to ask these same questions too.It seems that everyone expects you to have a job the moment you are handed your diploma. This can seem highly unrealistic to most of us, but I’m here to reassure you and tell you that it’s actually not as far-fetched as it seems, it CAN be done, and I’m going to tell you how to do it.
How to Get a Job Before You Graduate
It’s true, I had a job before I even walked across the stage at graduation, but how? It’s quite simple really.
A few weeks before graduation I started to panic about what would happen next. I had already taken and passed my clinical boards, the CSCE, and anesthesia boards (all by prepping with StudentRDH, btw) so I figured, why not check the job market and apply?
I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “who the heck would hire you when you haven’t even graduated hygiene school, let alone have a license to practice!?”. The answer to that is 7 offices, to be exact. In my free time before finals week I signed up for ZipRecruiter and Indeed.com as well as browsed the job market via Google. I found a few places that peaked my interest- so I applied. The first step in applying for a job is having a stellar resume. Forsyth really goes above and beyond in that department and helps you to format the best resume you’ll ever have. The second step is to alter your resume with honest information, including exact dates of graduation and expected date of licensure. For example, on my cover letter, I said that “I will soon be a recent graduate of the Forsyth school of dental hygiene at MCPHS University on 12/13/2017”.
This lets potential employers know you haven’t yet graduated, but do have an actual date in which you will do so. I also included the date that I would be taking the National exam as it was scheduled after graduation (I passed that exam using StudentRDH, too!). Next, I sent my resume out to about 8 different offices. Over the next two days, I heard back from two offices who wanted to set up interviews. I interviewed and was offered both jobs and ended up taking a part-time position at one of the offices (we currently do botox and fillers there and it’s AWESOME!). Over the next few weeks, I heard back from the rest of the offices where I applied and ended up taking another part-time position.
Working World vs. Dental Hygiene School
Another question you might find yourself asking is, “what’s the working world like?” Or, “how different is it from hygiene school?” Well, my first day on the job the dentist showed me an eight patient schedule and said, “have fun!“ and that was that. I was tossed in, head-first and tried to find my own way. I must have asked the assistant and front desk a million different questions, but that’s what they’re there for. Your office is a team, each player is valuable, so don’t ever forget that. I ran 15 minutes behind on my first day, which I attribute to nerves and not knowing where anything was located! I honestly figured my time management would be the thing to trip me up considering I had 4 hours to complete a patient in hygiene school, but in the real world I only had 50 minutes. I just did the best that I could do. That day was intense, and a little bit scary, but I made it through and so will you! Eventually, you’ll find your groove and have your own process in the hygiene room, but always remember that top-notch patient care is the priority. If it takes you an extra 5 minutes to perio chart or educate - do it. Don’t rush, don’t skip steps, deliver quality care to each and every patient. The most rewarding part so far has been when patients specifically request to come back and see me. That makes those first hectic days all worth it! The patients really are the best part of hygiene. You chose a great career and are gaining all of the necessary tools to equip you to be a great clinician!
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