You've wondered for years if you should leave dental hygiene.
Should you get out or should you stay in? I think I asked myself that question a hundred times before I ended up on disability. It felt like a super difficult choice to make, but looking back I see how I kept myself from knowing the answer. Deep in my heart I knew what I wanted but I was afraid.
How would I pay my bills? Who would hire me? Would I have to go back to school?
Quite often my brain would shut down after just thinking through all of the questions that came up.
Does this sound like the voices in your head? Unsure of where to go and if you should stay? Too many questions that don't seem to have any real answers. If so, you AREN'T ALONE.
I have spoken to 100's of hygienists who wrestle with the exact same question. I've heard it so many times that I felt it was time to create a resource to help you get clear on what you want to do.
This report will give you a few different ways to figure out:
Where you are
If you should stay or go
If you leave, How to end up where you really want to be
There was so much to say that I also created videos so you could just sit and listen for the first 3 topics. Absorb what you can the first time around and come back again to get more. Many of these are new topics for most hygienists and might need a bit of time to sink in - I know it did for me!
The 5 Things You Need to Know When Considering Leaving Dental Hygiene
1. Change the way you feel, Change your life.
(Click on the video play button below or scroll down to read)
It may truly feel like ‘this’ (fill in your ‘this’ here: e.g. working for this dentist, working longer hours, not getting paid enough, working as a dental hygienist) is a situation that you can’t get out of.
You are stuck.
You have bills to pay, children to take care of, a life that has its own needs all of which make your changing jobs not really a possibility.
I’m not saying that what you are feeling isn’t accurate, the way you feel is the way you feel. Though ‘what we feel’ quite often becomes ‘what we think is the truth’ but this not reality. It is the version that we play in our own minds.
Just because I feel 34 doesn’t make me that age but it does change the way I carry myself and live my life. The way we think and feel creates our lives.
I know you’ve heard of the glass half-full and half-empty analogy, this is similar but yet different. Yes, you do feel better when the glass is half-full, but what you may not be aware of is a positive perspective also brings more happy and positive things in your life.
I remember when I wanted to get out of dental hygiene and felt that I couldn’t. Nothing about that time felt good. The worse I felt the harder my days got. It was a perpetual cycle. The more I focused on the bad, the more bad I got. I stopped listening to my heart, which was desperately asking for a change, and instead just kept on complaining.
I did this until one day I got hurt (and ended up on disability-that’s another story for another time). Want to get unstuck? The first step is to start by changing the way you feel.
Not sure if you are living positively or negatively? Do the exercise below to find out!
Easy Exercise: How you are living?
What kind of world you are making for yourself? Follow the steps below to have a true view on your everyday.:
- Take out a sheet of paper and write positive and negative on the top - creating 2 columns.
- Then think about a typical week. As you think about your activities, focus on the feelings that they create for you.
- As each one comes up, write them (just the feelings) down under the proper column.
This might take a bit of time but make sure you cover your time at work as well as your time at home and at play. Once you’ve put them all down, take a look to see which side has more on it. It's an easy way to see how you are living your life. It will also show you the life you are creating for yourself.
- When you look at the list how does it make you feel?
- If you were on your death bed and someone handed you this list how would you feel? Would you be able to sayyou had truly lived your life the ‘right’ way and you did what you came here for?
- Which one is your glass: half empty or half full? And are you happy living that way.
If your list made you feel like you are on the right path, that's fantastic! Sadly, more often than not it’s an eye opener.
When I first did it, I was shocked at what I saw – I was officially a negative Nelly. I stopped and took a look at my life and found I was, working my tail off, trying to make everything happen for everyone else but I had forgotten to take inventory on how I was living. I knew things had to change.
If this sounds like I am describing your life, here’s the good news: CHANGE CAN HAPPEN IN AN INSTANT!!
Just think about it. How did things change when that special someone told you, “I love you” for the first time, or how about when they said, “It’s over”?
These two examples quickly show how change doesn’t have to take time. You have the power to create great changes in your own world as soon as right now.
If you are ready, acknowledge it to yourself. Say it out loud so that you can hear your own voice saying, "I am ready for a change for the better!" (This may feel silly to do but it tells your mind to get started.)
The 4 Steps to change:
Not happy with your results from the exercise? Ready for things to change?!?! Follow the 4 steps below and you will be surprised how easy it is get started and 'unstick' yourself at the same time.
- Get moving: Whether it’s going back to the gym or going for a walk every day, get started. When you move your body things start to change. Movement creates momentum which will help get you unstuck.
***While you are doing this take a look at your body. Is it tight, are your shoulders down and relaxed or are they up by your ears? Are you clenching your teeth and holding on to some pain or anger? Or are you thinking about that great patient you had today that made you feel amazing?
Change the way your body feels and other changes will come. Try to move 5 days per week for at least 30 min. to really see a difference. (No I'm not here to get you in shape, that's just the added bonus ;)
- Change Your Focus, Change Your Reality: Use this time to focus on things that you are proud or happy about in your life.
Create a space and time to not only take care of your physical health but also your mental health. You can do this by keeping a positive attitude the entire time. Just like I mentioned above, what we focus on becomes our reality, so why not spend time everyday focusing on the good things in your life. Even better, why not focus on all of the wonderful things coming to you right now?!?! I call this “running my energy”.
At first this may seem like hard work, though the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Best of all you will see amazing shifts and changes both in yourself and in your life! The first time I did it, all I focused on was my online review website becoming very financially successful and within 1 year this site went from making $500 per month to rivaling my husband’s 6-figure executive salary! It really does work!)
*TIP: Not sure where to start? Create a mantra to repeat over and over like, “I’m happy. I am free and I can do anything!” Another great way is to focus on the things you are grateful for and truly feel them in your body. (It’s the feeling part that makes the difference.) “Need to change your attitude, then focus on gratitude!”
- Inward Thoughts: Now that you’ve created a time every day to be positive, notice your thoughts throughout the rest of your day. All day long we ask ourselves questions and find the answers in our minds. (I’d bet you just asked yourself, “Do I do that?” Point proven. ;)
How those questions are posed? Are they negative? Do they accuse you of not having done something well or even at all? Does that voice berate you or tell you wonderful amazing things about how great you are?
It is typically easier to ask the negative questions than the positive ones. Does your inner voice tell you, “You did amazing!” or “I am so proud of you!” or my favorite, “You should be so proud of yourself! You really made a difference!”
If you’re anything like the rest of us, it’s probably more negative than positive. It’s not in our nature to complement ourselves. We were taught at a young age not to brag and our brains took it seriously.
Start by trying to be gentler with yourself. Let’s be honest, some of the worst criticism we get is the stuff we hear in our own heads.
Let yourself be smart, be strong, be beautiful, and be joyful.
Wear these adjectives, and any others you desire, like they belong to you, because they do.
No one else will know what you’re thinking but you. Though don’t be surprised if people start seeing you in a whole, new and beautiful way.
- Your Words: Now that you know what your thoughts are like, take a look at how you use your words. Do you tend to pose things in a negative or a positive way? Try to pay attention to what you are saying out loud to others. Also watch how you describe yourself.
So often I hear people say the most terrible things about themselves out loud. Just because you don’t know how to do something you don’t have to call yourself illiterate or worthless. Unknowledgeable, student or novice all describe the same thing and they lift you and your conversations up instead of putting you down.
Just these simple changes will create a big shift. They will change the way you feel and that in itself will make a difference.
(If this feels a bit more than you can do on your own, don't worry. I specialize in helping others to change their lives to the dreams they've always thought weren't possible. I work both one-on-one and in groups to make this happen for women all over the world. You don't have to do this all alone.)
2. You can make as much money as you desire.
(Click on the video play button below or scroll down to read)
If you are anything like the rest of us (I am a dental hygienist, too!), you believe that what you make right now is probably the most you can get paid. I have spoken to 100’s of hygienists and not a single one of them ever told me, “I am going to make $1 million this year!” and meant it. Instead the mere discussion of this as a concept usually brings about a chuckle.
A hygienist making a million dollars?
That’s not possible!
Or is it?
Our minds are very powerful tools that tell us what is truly possible. The amount we believe we are worth is all we will ever be paid.
Exercise: Are You Blocking Being Paid More?
Not sure if this is true? Here’s an exercise to help you see why you are only getting paid what you are:
- Envision yourself telling your boss that you would like a $5 per hour raise.
How does the thought of having this conversation feel in your body?
Do you feel comfortable in your own skin just thinking about this conversation?
Does this feel easy going to do or something you just want to run away from screaming, “Noooooooooo, don’t make me!!!”?
- Now let’s get out of your head and think about it in reality.
If you work 8 hours per day, then you are asking for $40 more per day. If you charge an average of $100 per visit (some are more and some are less due to x-rays, perio maint, etc.), then you are making $800 in revenue on average per day. Asking for $40 per day is only 5% that.
Why does 5% of what you bring in seem like too much?!?!
PLEASE DON’T TAKE THIS EXERCISE AS MY TELLING YOU TO GO AND DEMAND A $5 PER HOUR RAISE.
Instead this is a way for you to see how you are keeping yourself from believing you could be paid more.
These are called money blocks and everyone has them, sadly dental hygienist’s money blocks are bit deeper seeded and a bit tougher to get rid of.
Think of the number of times a dentist or front office person has told you that "you get paid too much". You don’t work as hard as everyone else, "you just clean teeth". No one else truly understands why you feel like you should be paid more – except for another dental hygienist.
With thoughts and voices like this running around our heads it’s no wonder we don’t feel we can earn more.
Whether you leave dental hygiene or not, changing these prevailing thoughts around your worth will be essential in earning more money.
My personal experience with money blocks before I knew they existed was not a good one. When the chance to earn more came around I subconsciously sabotaged it. I didn't believe that something so big could happen to me - and, in the end, I was right.
Sadly, we stay where we are comfortable, even if it isn’t where we want to be. Are you keeping yourself in a comfortable situation but not where you would like?
3. Your degree doesn’t define you – you do!
(Click on the video play button below or scroll down to read)
Let's be honest, you're never going to get rich cleaning teeth for a dentist. But that isn't all you can do.
I have heard of hygienists that have done very well for themselves doing other things.
We are very smart, strong and independent people and we can and do make money in other ways. (Right now is your mind fighting you and telling you it’s not true? Listen to what it is saying and you might be surprised at how it’s keeping you stuck. Money stories stick hard - go back to #2)
There are so many other options open to you and no, I don’t mean selling Mary Kay, Pampered Chef or some other ‘prey’ on your friends to make money scheme. Yes, there are other jobs you can do and still use your degree. If you worked half as hard as I did to get your degree, then there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to let go of it.
What Else can I do with my degree?
If you desire to hold on to you are your degree, then let's examine the other possibilities open to an RDH. There aren't too many options, but you are truly eligible to do any of the following:
1. Dental materials rep (Hu Friedy, Listerine, etc.)
2. Hygiene/patient coordinator
3. Front desk
4. Teaching dental hygiene
5. Getting your masters to work in public health or the like.
While all of these are jobs you can get and use your degree to do, most, if not all of them, pay less and are more stressful than doing clinical hygiene. So, unless one of the jobs listed above is your dream job, the best job your degree will get you is the one you probably have right now.
Before you go off the deep end, take a deep breath. The idea that you don’t have another choice is probably creating a feeling of stress and overwhelm.
Check in with yourself – does that feel good or bad? Remember that the only place you are stuck is in your mind.
The only other option now might feel like going back to school to get another degree (which basically puts you in a similar situation to where you are right now). Going back to school is perfect if you:
- Know exactly what you would like to do
- Have done the research on what it pays, how saturated the market is, what a typical day looks like, etc.
- Have already spent a few days working alongside someone in the career you desire to do.
If this is the case and everything seems to fit, then I say, “Go for it!” Though if none of these are true for you and you still aren’t sure, then keep on reading.
What I am about to suggest may sound scary and start some alarm bells in your brain, shut them down and keep reading. Alright?
What are my other career choices?
This is the age of the internet – you can create a business on a topic you are passionate about and make money doing it. On the internet you can earn a good or even great salary doing any number of things. I personally know many people making $10,000 to $100,000 per month from their computer in their own homes (and on vacation!) on topics they are incredibly passionate about without having any employees!! (Trust me – it is possible. I’ve done it not once but 3 times!!!)
--Yes, I know the idea of starting a business scares the poop out of you.
Let’s step back into reality for a minute.
You got through dental hygiene school didn’t you?
It wasn’t easy, was it?
Weren’t you scared to death when you first started?
How about the first time you worked on a patient in clinic?
How about your first week in practice?
Weren’t you scared to death?
But you showed up every day and got through it.
I’m sure you’re saying, “But I don’t know anything about creating a website or an online business!” Take a minute and remember before you started doing dental hygiene, weren’t you were in the same place?
- Did you know exactly how to take x-rays the first time you did it?
- Did you know what gingival hyperplasia looked like before you got started? (heck my spell check still doesn't know what it is!!)
- Were you able to tell the difference between gingivitis in a healthy person vs. that of a diabetic?
- Were you able to feel for furcation involvement the first time or did a dentist have to point out to you that you missed it?
You’ve learned so much over the course of your career, things that school couldn’t teach you. (I would bet that each of the scenarios just mentioned probably brought up images in your mind, that’s how much you know!!)
Look at all that you have learned since you got out of school and continue to learn every day!
Yes, most of the world just sees us as ‘maids’ but you and I know that we are their best chance at keeping their teeth and preventing them from needing surgery!
That means something.
Not just anyone can do what we do – we are perfectionists that are willing to do the work that is required of us regardless of being in pain, our hands hurt, we don’t feel well or the patient is just a pain in the butt. We know what needs to be done and we do it.
Why can’t that translate into other parts of your world?!?!
Why, if you’ve learned so much in your career, do you feel that you can’t learn another skill – one that will allow you to:
- Create the life you desire
- Have both vacation AND sick days
- Get paid for the work you doand what you truly deserve
- Where you are the boss
Step out into reality and see the amazing person you are and all that you CAN do. Why not take a chance? You’ve really got nothing to lose.
(I would bet this is probably a bit more than you are used to believing is possible. I've already helped so many women achieve this so I can tell you that it is alright to dream and dream big. If you need help getting started or would prefer doing it in the company of others, feel free to contact me.)
4.You already know the right career for you…
If you are anything like me, then you probably chose dental hygiene based on some rudimentary things that made the choice seem simple.
- It was a career.
- It paid well.
- It seemed to have good hours.
- It wasn’t too hard or dirty to do.
- It seemed like something you could do for the rest of your life.
This is the way that people have looked at finding careers for many, many years and we still have our children ask these questions today. Though there is a huge hole in this equation. Even if you had all 5 of these things in the job you did, it wouldn’t guarantee your happiness in your job.
What if, instead of starting at a point of, “what job seems appropriate" we turned it around? Changing it to asking, “what topics/hobbies/things do I love?” “What could I talk about or do every day, all day, even if I wasn’t getting paid?” Then took this topic and thought about ways to make money doing what we love.
Once you add true personal passion to what you do, things start to get interesting.
Ideas that don’t seem like they would be very successful become incredibly profitable. Why? Because working on them isn’t work – it’s fun. Working on something that lights you up 80 hours a week, may sound time consuming but at the end of a week you are still excited to do more!
That’s what makes this a completely different way to look at your career, future and life.
Easy Exercise: Find your ideal career
- Get a pen and paper and write down a list of your favorite things to do. Don’t censor yourself! It doesn’t make a difference if you don’t know how they would make money – we aren’t talking about making money.
What do you do that truly lights you up?
What makes the time fly?
What are your very favorite things to do in the whole wide world?
Write them all down.
- Choose the top three things out of your list and look at each one. What do others need help in each of these topics that people would happily pay for that you would love to do?
- Take a look at the list of all three with all of the possibilities you can do and get paid. Then number them in order as to which ones you would prefer doing (1st, 2nd and 3rd), which ones pay the best (1st, 2nd and 3rd) and which ones have truly the biggest need to be fulfilled on (1st, 2nd and 3rd).
**If your anser isn't super clear at this point, then add a point value to each one. 1st=20 points, 2nd=10 points and 3rd=5 points. Add up each one and you will have a number to tell you which one fits you more.
5. There are more than enough hours in a day to start something new.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone through these 4 topics with a client, they are super excited and then they tell me, “I would love to but I don’t have enough time.”
Let’s get back into reality for an instant (by now you’re probably getting pretty good at this!).
A recent study told us that most Americans spend 4 hours a day in front of the television. If we multiply that by 5 it gives us 20 hours a week which is huge. Not to mention that most hygienists only work 4 days a week. Let’s add another 8 hours to that and we are at a whopping 28 hours per week you can devote to creating a life you love. That’s almost full time!
The best part of this plan is you don’t have to quit your job to find out if you can make money at doing a business of your own.
You can do it in the evenings and weekends to start.
If you created a goal and tried to move toward it 1% every day, at the end of the year you wouldn’t be 365% closer to it, you would be 1000% closer due to an amazing thing called momentum.
Sure in the beginning you will need to push it to get it started (whatever the it is).
Just thinking and asking every day, “What do I need to do today to move myself 1% closer to my dream?” will keep it constantly on your mind. The amazing thing about our minds is the fact that our subconscious likes to help us solve our problems which is why it is so great to ask it questions – often.
- Tip: The best time is to ask yourself something really perplexing right before you go to sleep. You might be surprised at the answers that come to you shortly after you wake up. Edison and Einstein were both known to take naps when they couldn’t solve a difficult problem.
Once you begin asking questions, getting answers and taking action you will see the momentum begin to happen. And this is when things start to get really fun. The help you get makes your dream come to reality in leaps and bounds.
In order to feel truly fulfilled in your life, every day you need to move toward something, a goal, a vision or a desire. It is this momentum that will cause you to achieve these goals and allow you to create new ones.
Often the hardest part is getting started. Learning how to use your time wisely, knowing what to focus on first, even figuring out what you truly love to do. These are all part of the process.
Want More Help? Let's set up a time to chat further
I am here to help you make this transition. I love helping people create new realities for themselves and is the passion that I've turned into my career. If you are interested in learning more about either my one on one packages or my group coaching, click on the link below.
If you are interested in speaking directly to me to see how I can help you create the life you've only dreamed was possible, then click on the link below to set up some time.