June 25, 2021
by Dr. Leana Lundt, JVR Dental
Temporary dental hygienists are rapidly growing in popularity. Not only are dental offices needing more for those at home in quarantine, but a variety of hygienists are also finding the flexibility of temporary jobs appealing.
These temps include dental hygienists who recently graduated and wish to try out different dental offices before committing, as well as semi-retired seasoned hygienists seeking temporary dental employment—and everything in-between.
Regardless of the reason behind why each person may choose temp work within the dental industry, these types of positions offer exciting and diverse opportunities. That being said, there is a certain etiquette that those looking to get into the temp hygienist field should be aware of. Some are simple reminders, while other etiquette details provide worthwhile information worth the read!
Temp jobs in the dental industry allow for a lot of flexibility, providing dental hygienists the ability to choose how, when and where they work.
However, this flexibility on your end does not necessarily mean added accommodation on the dental office’s part towards your desired outcome.
While you won’t be expected to go above and beyond within a ‘hygienist-for-a-day’ position, it is still important to offer your highest level of professionalism, which includes:
Because everyone’s time is valuable, being on time is imperative.
Putting either a patient or dentist behind schedule can cause the day to go off course quickly, and it also puts a blemish on your reputation as a temp as well.
A helpful way to prevent this is to simply use Google maps to accurately inform the dental office as to when you can arrive based on traffic. It’s a simple detail that helps the day run more smoothly for everyone. The dental office can then adjust accordingly based on what they know vs. the unknowns to your late arrival.
Being in close proximity to patients in vulnerable positions is part of the job as a hygienist at a family dentist. So coming into work well-groomed will definitely put those sitting in the dental chair more at ease.
Proper attire that is clean and pressed, as well as cleanliness of your general person, will paint you in the proper light and put the patients at ease knowing they are in good (and clean!) hands.
Although the protocols for PPE might vary ever so slightly from office to office, coming prepared for the newly emerging and always-changing dynamics of Covid-19 is important.
Being prepared with your own PPE—including face shield, glasses or special sized gloves if needed—can help ensure you step into your day’s position ready to go.
Of course, it is the responsibility of OSHA to provide the proper PPE for frontline employees of any kind, but if you are more comfortable using your own approved and fitted PPE, have that discussion with the dental office ahead of time to best facilitate the current dynamics within your health region.
Sometimes these reminders are necessary, especially during an increased time of stress. Putting personal differences aside for the day and playing nice with others, even when they too are stressed, is perhaps difficult to absorb, but important for everyone in the office.
As well, ensure your mindfulness is extended to front desk staff and administration. Although you are there filling in to help, making demands of assistants to take x-rays on your behalf, or treating others who clearly have less experience than you with a lesser form of respect, will cause unnecessary tension you will want to avoid as a temp.
Walk in expecting to enjoy your day, and flow through it with humility, curiosity and kindness towards patients and staff of all stripes alike.
As a temporary hygienist, you may be asked to do everything from:
These expectations will vary from office to office, but keep in mind that the regular staff have their drawers organized in specific ways, and what system works for one office might not work for another. Between cultural awareness and basic organization of another hygienists’ space—you are there to assist for a day, so don’t feel the need to reinvent the system in place.
Overall, doing the best job you can, whether new to the profession or having had decades of experience, is what matters at the end of the day. It will make you feel proud, and those you are temping for feel pleased with your efforts!
About the Author
Dr. Leana Lundt is the Dentist/Owner of JVR Dental in Langley, BC. She has been practicing dentistry since 2009 and has a passion for kids and teens making sure she provides treatment at an early age that the patient can benefit from when they are older.
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