Graduation is just the beginning of your career, so follow these tips to help ensure success along the way. Once you graduate, you may wonder what it’s like in the real world. Questions will arise in the dental office that are not anticipated or taught in school curriculums; field experience may be the only answer.
Once you graduate, you may wonder what it’s like in the real world. Questions will arise in the dental office that are not anticipated or taught in school curriculums; field experience may be the only answer.
Hopefully by now you have a CV or resume and a cover letter. A portfolio and website are also becoming the norm these days. In a competitive market, you need to up your game!
Here are a few tips for things you should do after graduation to boost your career.
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Dedicate time to volunteer at least once a year. You’ll meet many people and your name will become familiar, and at the same time you’ll be doing something absolutely rewarding. Volunteering is also one of the habits of the richest people, according to SUCCESS.
Continue your education
Go back to school now if that thought often crosses your mind and especially if you don’t have any major life commitments. This is always worth repeating because those of us who didn’t go back to school until years later usually wish we did it sooner. Life will take over, children will be born and you will have a job!
There may be public health opportunities available in your state that are considered a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Working in a FQHC allows the dental hygienist to apply for student loan forgiveness.
Life may refrain us from having time to attend a course or network. Picking up a magazine, joining a community group on Facebook or LinkedIn, or reading content online helps to keep us connected.
Enroll with companies to be on their sampling program. You and your patients can try before you buy and also provide coupons for consumers. We should know what products smell, taste and feel like prior to recommending. Two of my personal favorites are Xlear and CloSYS, which currently have sampling programs.
Transition your student association membership, if for no other reason than initially to do the right thing by your profession, until you learn the real perks. In Connecticut, our local components align their courses to meet the continuing education licensing requirements.
If you love a company, product or person, give them props by sharing on social media or providing a testimonial. This is considered “soft” marketing and while you are simply voicing the truth, one day the person or company you have shown support and advocated for may ask you to represent them by being an ambassador, educator or trainer.
Be aware that absolutely anything you type, from Facebook comments to website testimonials, will likely appear online. Google your name from time to time and you can check what pops up.
Don't put hobbies on the back burner because they may provide you with additional opportunities and income. Examples include writing, public speaking and graphic design. If you write and send your original work to someone, protect yourself by turning the Word document into a PDF (Thanks to Edie Gibson for that tip!)
Keep a paper trail
You may or may not be audited, however best practice is to keep track of all documents. You truly don’t want to receive a letter requesting proof of your continuing education credits for the past few years and not be prepared. With today’s technology, our lives of organization have been made easy. I use CE Zoom for everything (CE, expenses, deductions). You can also get a binder, plastic sleeves and a three-hole puncher, or pay for a storage app.
Get an NPI number
If your state allows direct reimbursement to dental hygienists, apply for your individual NPI number. Why? Because we can! It’s free and the name “dental hygienist” gets out there into state records.
Seek advice from professionals
Learn about taxes and deductions. Even if many say that you can't legally be paid as a 1099, you may have already, so learn what to do about it. Hire an accountant or a financial adviser. They don’t solely exist for the rich and are very affordable for what we are looking to accomplish.
There are many things you purchase that you can “claim” that aren’t limited to equipment, such as mileage. Keep a mileage record book in your car.
While you’re searching for a job, you can claim deductions on your clothes, resume services, mileage, etc., if and only if you don’t take the standard deduction.
Manage your finances
Be prepared to spend money on your career longevity. Google work-related skeletal disorders (WRSDs) in dentistry and see what you find; ergonomics should be taken seriously no matter how young you are/feel.
Loupes/lights/chairs are now the norm or minimum, with instruments next.
I bought my own wrist BP cuff when I started giving local so I could take it every time on a patient and do it quickly. It also stored the numbers so that I could record data then or later. We can’t always rely on our bosses to protect us. Definitely attempt to have these paid for, but for something that will always belong to you like loupes, it’s practical to assume the cost yourself (and then claim it on your taxes).
Go to a convention big or small at least once a year.
There are opportunities everywhere we turn and often we have no clue they are there. Be prepared and create your own “business” or contact card to keep on you at all times.
Every person in health care you talk to may be a future boss, partner, mentor or referral; don't be afraid to ask for their email and contact information for future discussions. This is how you will build your network. Keep a notebook on you, a business card organizer, or an online app to store contacts.
For per diem or short-term positions, take and keep people’s business cards. One day you may become a territory representative for a company and the per diem positions may become one of your accounts. Their business card serves as a reminder. Always remember that first impressions may be the last, so make them memorable!
Maintain your malpractice insurance and CPR. Look into disability as soon as possible. Ask those who have practiced a long time what they think of disability insurance.