With dental practices now reopened throughout much of Canada and the United States, you’re – at the very least – back to work. Undoubtedly, it’s a more productive way to spend your days rather than isolating at home.
But what are you supposed to do with the rest of your time? After all, there’s a tremendous likelihood that you’re still being hyper careful, given the higher risk of exposure for dentists, hygienists and dental assistants.
Outside of work hours, many throughout the industry remain at home, avoiding crowded public places as much as possible. What can you do to fill this downtime? Sure, you can improve your personal wellness with something like yoga (a suggestion made by industry experts), but like yoga, life is about balance. There’s more you can do with your time.
So, why not invest more time in your personal and career growth? More specifically, you could use this time spent social distancing at home on continuing education courses.
In many jurisdictions, continuing education is often a mandated part of the dental professions. There’s a need to accumulate credits to maintain your licensure, permits, or certification.
There’s no denying that ramping up your expertise and accumulating excess knowledge can do wonders for your career (and salary). All the same, you’re only human. And some continuing education courses have a reputation for mind-numbing boredom and dryness.
Plus, dentistry isn’t straightforward and simple. Earning further accreditation isn’t a matter of paying a fee and holding out your hand until you receive a certificate!
As such, it’s understandable why you’d be hesitant to take the plunge in these uncertain times.
By following the suggestions below, you can enter engaging programs that benefit your patience, practice, and the community.
Here are a few suggestions on how to enroll in a course that works for you:
Many courses are going to be incredibly dense and challenging to keep up with.
While this might not be an issue for some, balancing your full-time gig with the education course might not jive.
Seek out previous people who've completed that course (if possible) to see how time-consuming the course material will be. If this isn’t an option, there should be a feedback platform that helps you perform due diligence.
Try your best to land on something that meshes with your work and home life.
Before choosing your course, decide if the format works for you.
Let’s look at a list of course layouts you’ll come across:
An integral factor in your success with these courses would be the person teaching.
We’re living in the information age, and feedback for any teacher or chorus is readily available online.
If you're considering a teacher who's received mixed reviews, that might be a sign that you should continue your search.
Does what’s being taught fit with your profession?
Of course, you don't want to take something below your skill level, because that's a waste of your time. Conversely, something far outside of your scope will prove equally valueless since you can't apply it at work.
We suggest talking to your employer and coming to a consensus over which course would work for you.
First and foremost, see if your employer is willing to pay for your continuing education. Many bosses are enthusiastic about helping in this regard, though this means they have the final say in what you learn.
Alternatively, you can branch out on your own. In which case, you must be careful about keeping costs reasonable.
The world isn’t going to stand still forever.
You must strike while the iron is hot! Now is an ideal time for you to further your knowledge, skills, and career as a dental professional with continuing education courses.
You know it just as well as I ‒ dental hygienists provide pivotal, foundational services that keep a dental practice thriving. We work hard every day to make a difference in the lives of our patients and work functionally alongside dentists and other dental professionals.
In some ways, you could say that we’re the face of the dental field.
So, do we deserve a raise?
Not sure where to start or how to approach your boss about asking for a pay raise? Below, I’ve listed a few suggestions that I’ve picked up over the years from other veteran hygienists. All of these will help you to put your best foot forward when it’s time to have that all-important conversation!
Blindly asking for a raise won’t get you far, but conducting a thorough “self-review” before requesting a meeting with your boss will help you build a foundation for a powerful argument.
As hygienists, we spend our days caring for each of our patients while assuaging their fears, guiding them toward better oral health, and ensuring that their experience in the dental chair is a positive one. With all this in mind, it’s easy to forget that our practices are businesses, too!
Examine how you contribute to the overall functioning of the practice as a business, and use these facts to defend your request for a pay raise.
Never underestimate the power of backing up your request with the facts.
Document your increase in production, list the ways that you’ve improved your place of employment, include patient reviews that you’ve collected during your self-review, and let your boss know whether you’re responsible for an increase in returning patients.
Provide numbers whenever possible. There's no denying concrete data!
When scheduling your meeting, avoid late afternoon or after-work hours.
At the end of the day, both you and your boss are likely to be tired (and maybe even a tad cranky). Not only does this mean you won’t perform at your best, but your request may more easily be shrugged off or flat-out denied. Instead, try for a lunch meeting.
Also, consider aligning this conversation with annual reviews or your anniversary as an employee, but don’t ask for a raise if your office has just invested in some new, expensive equipment! If this is the case, wait a bit.
Your boss is likely to be more responsive to your request for a raise if you’ve already considered the increase you’re looking for.
Don’t put them in a difficult spot by requesting a raise and leaving the numbers completely up to them. Instead, requesting a specific increase will not only move the process along more smoothly but also open the door for further discussion and negotiation.
Balance is key here. By asking for too much, you risk appearing self-important and unprofessionally unrealistic. However, don’t ask for so little that you’re not fighting for what you deserve!
It may be helpful to use your increase in production as a guide.
There’s a lot to be said for an attitude that’s balanced with both confidence and humility.
While it’s important to assert your self-worth, dedicate part of your meeting to emphasize how grateful you are for the opportunities you’ve received as part of the practice. Let your boss know that you’re always looking for ways to give back and make the office a better place.
You’re asking for the practice to value you, so be sure that you value the practice right back!
In a perfect world, your conscientious request for a raise would be honoured without question.
In reality, however, the results of your meeting may not be so simple. Regardless of whether or not you deserve a raise and regardless of how thoroughly you’ve proved your worth to your boss, your request may be declined simply because the office is financially unable to honour your request. This does not mean that your boss doesn’t value your contributions!
If you’re denied a raise, you may consider negotiating some non-financial benefits such as equipment upgrades, commute reimbursement, or vacation pay.
Above all, remain professional throughout this process; no matter the outcome, take pride in yourself and in your work. If at first you don’t succeed, wait several months and try again!