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Ethel Hagans is a dental hygienist first, and then, the author of the book Extraordinary Dental Care. She is obsessed with motivating hygienists to raising their level of care, in order to woo their patients into patterns of great oral hygiene. Her motto: “In the end our main goal is to make sure their teeth outlast them!”
Small tokens of appreciation throughout the year can help you feel valued in your dental career.
Are you appreciated by your dental office? Do the doctors go above and beyond to celebrate and show they care for each individual? Does your dentist remember your birthday, hand out Christmas gifts, or dish out nice bonuses when profit goals are reached for the month? How are you shown gratitude?
In most offices that I’ve been fortunate enough to work in, birthdays were typically celebrated with a cake of your favorite flavor, lunch at a choice restaurant and a gift certificate. It feels so nice when your office cares to celebrate you, not only for all your hard work but for just being you. This show of appreciation makes you want to go the extra mile to support your dental team and to return the favor.
I will never forget working in an office that didn’t celebrate anything! No birthdays, no holidays-not even reaching production goals. This office was very lucrative, yet the morale among the employees was depressingly low. So, to break the mold, when the dentist’s birthday was nearing, I decided to get him a birthday card and pick up a cake from the local grocery store. The dental team said they had never done that before, but if it would boost morale and they could all have a slice of cake too, then they were more than willing to chip in. On the day of, during the morning huddle, we all broke out and began singing “Happy Birthday” and together presented him with the card and cake we had purchased. He was blown away. He emotionally stated that no office had ever done this for him, and he was grateful. I then told him, well, let’s make it a tradition because everyone loves to be appreciated. He agreed and took us all out to lunch that day as a thank you. This simple act of celebratory kindness brought us all closer together as a team and greatly improved everyone's previously dampened spirits. As a hygienist, be an innovator everywhere you go and watch it become a trend.
Now, plenty of offices offer both small and large bonuses when business is booming; however, when you are compensated for your dentist going on a longer than normal, much-needed vacation, that feeling is priceless. Every dentist wants to know he or she will continue to have a loyal and stable staff to come back to after being away, especially if he or she doesn’t have an associate to “man the fort” while away. I had the luxury of working for such a dentist, and we thoroughly enjoyed marking our calendars for the two or three weeks of shared vacation when the office would be closed. Even more amazing, this time off didn’t go down as personal vacation time either. The benefit of having a relaxing vacation and getting paid for it was truly heaven-sent.
Lastly, let’s not forget about the most wonderful time of the year-the holiday season. During this time, offices are sending out fruit baskets and holiday treats to neighboring associates they’ve partnered with, while others are treating their employees to lunches. The spreading of holiday cheer is almost infectious. Some of my most memorable holiday seasons were when I worked for a dentist who was a member of a very prestigious golf club, where we’d have our Christmas parties each year. There would always be a live band and the food was amazing. We all felt special that night and so did our spouses or dates. At the end of the evening, you could take home a Christmas ornament from a beautifully decorated tree, and your cash bonus was handed to you by the dentist merrily standing with his wife by his side. Afterward, he would always tell everyone not to leave just yet and that the best was yet to come.
At this golf club, there would be valet service, and everyone was given a raffle ticket along with their parking voucher. At the end of the night’s festivities, “Santa” would come out to the main floor and tell everyone to get their tickets ready for the Christmas giveaway drawing. I would be ecstatic and tell my husband, “I hope he pulls my number.” On the third drawing, Santa pulled my number, and I screamed! The dentist was giving out $500 with each winning number. He was one of my favorite career dentists of all time, and you can see why. Amazingly, he was not only charitable during the holidays to his staff and the community, but he would also volunteer his dental services on mission trips abroad in some of the world’s most impoverished countries every year. He was definitely a dental superstar.
When giving your all to make a patient smile and support your dental staff, just a simple “thank you” will do. However, small tokens of appreciation throughout the year will help you feel valued in your dental career, motivating you to reach higher and go further for your team.