BrownGirl, RDH is a non-profit organization representing the underrepresented dental hygienist. Our mission is to shift the mindset about who can work in the dental hygiene field, remove cultural and economic barriers to joining the dental hygiene workforce, and establish and promote pathways to dental careers.
Do you have a stressful or peaceful career? This three-part series dives deep into key areas - mind, body and soul - that can help you tap into your potential and enjoy a rewarding, fulfilling, peace-filled dental hygiene career. Part 1 of our series focuses on how to adjust your mindset when pessimism and negativity weigh you down.
1: a mental attitude or inclination
Politicians trying to determine the mindset of voters
2: a fixed state of mind
His mindset does not allow for new situations.
Our attitudes and perception of daily office activities can cause stress or peace in our careers. It’s easy to perceive dental office struggles the same way each day. By viewing each issue differently, you are able to take control of each situation and become proactive in your career. Train your mind to have a clearer, open perspective by changing your mindset.
Is your attitude pessimistic?
Do you always expect the worst in certain situations?
Do you sometimes lose hope in your dental career?
Feeling like nothing will ever change, all remains the same, or this is just the way it is?
You're not alone! We have all been there! Wait! Don’t stay there!
Change your attitude concerning everyday work struggles. View each situation as a way to improve and become a better, optimistic clinician. Your perception is so important in every aspect of your career and will determine peace or chaos in life.
It happens to all of us
I recently started working in corporate dentistry. One day I was asked, “Did they not teach you how to use the autoclave?” The dental assistant had a full schedule assisting the doctor, a few of my patients that morning were no-shows, yet the surgical instruments were piling up and the autoclave was empty.
I was so upset that she said this to me. I gave my response and she said “I was just joking!” But she wasn’t. Her mindset was that I did not want to help out when I should have. My mindset was that I wasn’t going to bag the instruments the wrong way and cause further problems when instruments were needed for certain procedures. I thought about what she said the rest of the day and even after I went home. It made me so upset! The next day I requested the lead dental assistant teach me how she prefers instruments bagged.
I explained the reason why I never removed them from the ultrasonic. Once she showed me how to bag them, she understood why I hadn’t been helping bag their instruments.
If I had a different mindset, I would have used a proactive approach and asked if someone could teach me how they liked their instruments bagged instead of leaving them in the ultrasonic. The dental assistant could have volunteered to show me when she noticed I hadn’t bagged the instruments. I could have had prima-donna syndrome where my mindset was, “It’s not my job to bag her instruments,” but thank goodness I’m not a person who thinks this way!
Small changes make a surprisingly big difference
I know it’s just one little thing but sometimes little things become big things and that’s when stress comes into play. By changing my mindset, I no longer think every team member has their own duties and I will just let them do their thing.
I am asking the dental assistants how I can help when I am not busy. They ask me how they can help me when I am running behind: “Do you need x-rays?” or “I took x-rays for your next patient.” They help clean the rooms and step into my room to see if I need help perio-charting. I’m asking every team member in the office how I can help. And by doing so, I have less stress, the practice runs smoothly and I am becoming a proficient in all areas of the practice!
Stress, of course, doesn't help
“Is One of These Common Problems Causing Stress in Your Dental Practice?” is the title of an interesting article I came across that touches on stressors and gives advice on how to resolve them. . It’s written for dentists but beneficial for career-driven dental hygienists, dental assistants … everyone in the entire office!
Part of the article centers around how to solve messy schedules (patient no-shows, cancellations, nothing to do one day, then overflowing and running behind schedule the next day). One resolution is to hire a scheduling coordinator. The article also suggests communicating the time required for certain procedures with the coordinator so the doctor has enough time to complete certain procedures. Looking at this from a dental hygiene perspective, it's not just the doctor who should communicate their needs to the person in charge of scheduling.
Taking stress out of the equation (when you can)
A way to eliminate stress for the dental hygienist is to look ahead at the schedule, let the scheduler know if there should be changes to the schedule due to patients who haven’t been confirmed or have a large balance owed without insurance. That patient probably won’t be coming in if they have a large overdue balance, especially if the patient has history of no-shows. Can the patient be moved and replaced with a patient who will show?
This alleviates stress from the dental hygienist feeling as if she needs to find something to do or, in some dental practices, being sent to lunch early or going home hours early due to the patients not showing. Is there a time slot for a 45-minute prophy when there should be an hour due to previous experiences? Let the scheduler know far in advance so a patient needs to be moved or rescheduled if needed.
It will benefit you and the entire office. You won’t be rushing, trying to stay on time, the office schedule will flow much smoother. And stress? Where?
If your time is spent doing prophys all day, it’s easy to get in the same routine of things. Try to stay updated on the latest adjunct products to recommend to each patient who has specific needs. Look ahead into patient charts, cater each visit to each patient’s needs by allowing time to address required treatment.
Your preparation and expertise will not go unnoticed by the patient or your team. They will appreciate your knowledge in what is best for their oral health. By having this mindset, you will surpass your potential and have a rewarding, fulfilling, peace-filled career!
Read Part 2 of the series: Outlive Your Career by Investing in YOU
Read Part 3 of the series: What's Your Meditation Method?