When you first obtain your degree in Dental Hygiene you may not be able to imagine yourself doing anything except clinical hygiene. Dental hygienists do have a high burn out rate and many seek other avenues within their field of knowledge.
Some hygienists also experience trouble with their necks, backs, and wrists due to poor ergonomics and nearly have no choice but to discontinue clinical hygiene. There are a few options available, but for a career change, keep in mind that it is beneficial to have a bachelor’s degree. The degree, however, does not necessarily have to be in dental hygiene.
Some schools of dental hygiene only require 3 years of clinical experience and a current license to be a clinical instructor. This career gives you the opportunity to educate students in all areas of clinical hygiene in an educational setting.
This will range from preclinical to more advanced scaling and root planing procedures. The pay is typically less than private practice hygiene but may come with benefits such as insurance, retirement, and great vacation time around holidays and summer break!
Dental supply companies love to employ those who are passionate about their products but also have some knowledge of the career field they are supplying products to.
For example, having a dental hygienist who sells preventative products and instruments would be able to relate better to the needs of the clinical team than someone who simply has a bachelors degree in Marketing and is “well read” on the products that are in their line. Most sales positions do require a bachelor’s degree and also require some level of travel. There are annual dental conventions that take place all over the United States and all the major dental suppliers set up booths.
DENTAL OFFICE MANAGER OR HYGIENE COORDINATOR
If you still love the dental office environment but are physically unable to continue dental hygiene practice or are just ready for a change of pace you will be well qualified to work in other areas of the office. You will understand the hygiene schedule better than anyone and would excel at a hygiene coordinator position where it would be your job to keep the hygiene schedule full and productive.
If you are burned out on private practice clinical but still want to help patients by providing dental hygiene services there are other avenues in which to practice. There are dental hygienists who work for prison systems, VA hospitals, and state mental hospitals. These positions also include government benefits such as retirement, insurance, and paid holidays.