September 13, 2021
by Dr. James Younger, DDS; Fiona Mattrasingh, RDH, AEC
This past year has been a roller coaster ride for everyone, and the job market for dental professionals is no exception.
There has been a huge flux in job-seekers looking for new positions and dental offices searching for new team members. And during all of this, there has been a real shift in the dental temping space.
Whether it’s dental professionals looking to fill in their week because their office cut hours, those who want more flexibility in their schedule or newer grads gaining experience and perspective in their new careers – there are many reasons for leveraging temping shifts in your professional life.
But whatever the reason, in a perfect world it should be fast, easy and predictable to get started, right? For some, yes – but not for everyone. Just like anything worthwhile in life, there are a number of things to consider when you’re looking to pick up temping shifts.
To shed some light on the topic and open up the discussion, I joined an Instagram live with Fiona Mattrasingh, RDH on her Instagram account (@mouthboxx).
Fiona (co-author of this article) is a self-initiated dental hygienist who works as a clinical educator and has a growing social media presence. And I (fellow co-author) am founder and CEO of Tempstars.
We spoke at length about reasonable and realistic expectations for dental temping shifts, from the perspective of the temping dental professional and from that of the dental office booking a dental hygienist or assistant for the day.
As we said from the beginning of our talk, this is about how to help, communicate and set realistic and reasonable expectations, so that an office is happy when someone comes in for a temping shift, but also so the person temping that day is also happy. And we tried to talk about what’s expected there, but not take one side or the other.
There is no “Us vs. Them” in consideration of this topic – because in the end there are needs and expectations from everyone involved to make the process run as smoothly and successfully as possible. And so for the purpose of this article, we’re going to summarize our discussion on the topic of what we consider fair, reasonable and realistic expectations from both perspectives, to really set everyone up for success in temping situations.
A few key Dos and Don’ts
Deliver on what you say you will
If, as a dental professional, you have signed up for a temping shift where there are requirements specific to the job at hand – like Itero Scan proficient, laser certified, etc., then be ready to provide these services at a high level of comfort and knowledge, and, of course, with certification already attained.
In addition, always be ready to perform the duties that normally fall within the scope of those who hold the same role at the office (steri-centre, X-rays, room turnaround, etc.).
If there’s something on which you are not trained, or you’re uncomfortable with, discuss this with the office and let them know you want to become more proficient. They might have someone who can work with you to strengthen your skills. At the very least, they will have a heads-up and they can work around any gaps in your skills/comfort for the day.
Similarly as a dental office manager/owner, whatever you require of the dental professional should be clear and communicated, without expectations that the dental professional temping will work outside of their scope of training and expertise.
I spoke about this point from a perspective most wouldn’t consider. I explained that in my experience with tens of thousands of completed temping shifts through TempStars, expectations are met the vast majority of times, but sometimes there are hitches that can occur because the office changed their expectations.
Occasionally we’ve seen dental offices post a temping shift and book somebody for a role that doesn’t match their temp posting. For example, when a dental assistant post is accepted and the person arrives to be put on the phone for the day (or some other task that doesn’t fall within the expected skills, training or normal responsibilities of that person and their role), there can be problems.
That sort of thing is uncommon but when it does happen, it’s very bothersome because it’s not respecting the dental professional’s time, training and expertise.
Work in an office blindfolded
Both parties need to plan to put a bit of additional work into preparing for a fruitful day. The dental professional going in for a temping shift should know about the office prior to coming, ask them questions or look up their website and social media accounts to see what they are about and what they offer.
Fiona explained that as a hygienist, you are caring for the office, caring for the patients when you come in to work a temp shift and vice versa. The office is treating the dental hygienist or assistant temping that day as a person, as a professional.
Fiona recounts a past experience: “I have experienced going to offices where people were just not friendly. It doesn’t take much to be nice and I really want to succeed and to have a positive experience at the office, and have a positive experience with the patients.” By paying attention to the basics of courtesy and professionalism, this is easy to achieve.
From the office’s side, one person should be assigned to help the temp in the morning to become acclimated, set the expectations and to be a point of contact throughout the day. This alleviates questions and anxieties and ensures both parties have a way to positively communicate with each other.
Set up your temporary dental professional to succeed
There are some offices that really cause their own problems. Occasionally we hear of an office manager or dentist owner who is rude and unhelpful, or just expecting their dental professional to jump in without any instruction, guidance or orientation.
If an office is expecting someone to come in for a temporary shift and display their best clinical skills and care, without any setup or familiarization time, this likely will not go well for anyone.
Rather, dental offices should take the time to be kind, respectful and helpful to the dental professional who is temping for the day. The best offices set their dental temps up for success by:
When an office makes the effort to do this, it’s a world of difference – they’re setting their dental professional up for success – which means great things for the office, their patients, their team and the temping hygienist or assistant.
Beyond the butterflies in your stomach, enjoy the experience and give it a full effort. You will be surprised at what can come from a new experience, new relationships and building out your professional network. And that is exactly what dental temping is, an exciting adventure!
Watch the entire discussion
While this is a good summary of our discussion, we encourage you to watch the entire interview here at youtu.be/DzGo9bbW9o8.
Check out Fiona (Ig: @mouthboxx) for further dental resources and inspiration, and TempStars (tempstars.com) for all your dental temping and employment connections!
About the Author
Dr. James Younger is a practising dentist, and the Founder & CEO of TempStars, Canada’s largest and #1 rated dental temping and hiring service. Since 2015, the TempStars has built on cutting-edge mobile technology to directly connect dental professionals quickly and easily for temping and hiring.
Fiona is a clinical instructor, speaker and mentor with over 16 years of experience in the dental field. She has a growing social media presence @mouthboxx and mouthboxx.ca, and has upcoming workshops for RDH grads.