How-To

How to Maximize Your Career Outside the Op

By Katie Melko, RDH, MSDH on October, 10 2018
Katie Melko, RDH, MSDH

Katie works as a public health hygienist and educator and as adjunct faculty at Lincoln College of New England. She is involved in ADHA and currently serves as Immediate Past President in Connecticut.

Are you looking for more in your career? Do you see yourself doing more than providing patient care? I do – and I finally stepped outside of my comfort zone and went for one of my career goals! It’s scary and uncomfortable, but as people say: “Nothing happens in your comfort zone!”

The two most important pieces of advice that I can offer you from my own experience is:

  1. Never give up- even when you think you’re at your breaking point – DO NOT DO IT!
  2. Believe in your potential! If you don’t believe in yourself, most likely it will be a struggle for others to see your potential as well!

Are you an RDH with an associate’s degree? If the answer is yes and you’re looking to do more with your career, go back to school and get a bachelor’s and/or master’s in something you’re passionate about. It doesn’t have to be dental hygiene, but if it is, that’s great, too! The more education you equip yourself with, the more of an asset you’ll be to your future employers.

If you’re involved in organizations such as ADHA or attend conferences such as RDH Under One Roof, apply to sit in on a workgroup, join a committee, and get leadership experience through your component, state and national associations. All of these paths just help you grow professionally and personally; they’re also excellent resume builders.

A lot of sales companies look for RDHs who are involved because they can and will be able to reach students and other professional hygienists out in the field. If you have never been involved in these types of activities before, I highly recommend it.

Even if you’re not ready to jump into a broader role, go to these meetings and conferences – NETWORKING is key to building your career. This is where people make connections and can offer advice and sometimes are the missing puzzle to a job offer. I always leave these conferences rejuvenated and ready to hit the ground running again. The passion and dedication to our profession is everywhere you look at these events!

Get your name out there, start writing articles and submit them to be published in a magazine or online publication. This avenue has opened so many doors for me. This is a great resume builder for RDHs looking to go into education.

Volunteering is another great networking tool and helps reignite your fire. It’s good for the soul and will help keep you motivated.

Potential ventures outside the operatory include:

  • Writing
  • Educating
  • Sales
  • Research
  • Starting your own business

And so many more! It’s important to do some deep soul searching here – figure out what your passion is and head down that road. Find other hygienists who are also passionate in this area and introduce yourself to them.

Find your tribe and remember: you are a strong, dedicated and passionate hygienist, and you can do this!

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