This week on A Tale of Two Hygienists TIPisode we are joined by Teresa Duncan, MS. This week Teresa talks to us about opportunities available if you decide to step away from Dental Hygiene.
Teresa is a speaker and writer with over 20 years of experience in healthcare. Her areas of expertise include proven accounts receivable and insurance methods, and helping doctors and managers establish solid management systems. A recipient of the Educator of the Year Award by the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries – a component of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, she understands the importance of continuing education.
- Recommendations if you are thinking about stepping outside of Dental Hygiene
- Keep up that license
“More of you are looking at opportunities beyond being in the operatory”
“Conflict resolution, unfortunately, is one of those things we learn on the fly, but there really is tried and true systems behind it”
“Some corporate positions are mentoring newer hygienists”
“You will have a steady salary, and you will have benefits”
“If you have a niche, and you are really good at something, narrow in on that”
“You are going to want to brush up on your business skills”
“Communications and conflict resolution skills are key”
“Check into that dream job that you wanted a couple of years ago, chances are with all the shifting that is going on, that it might be available”
“Don’t worry about the cons, start going what if, what if, what if”
A Tale of Two Hygienists Website: www.ataleoftwohygienists.com
Contact Teresa: http://www.odysseymgmt.com/contact
Nobody Told Me That Podcast: http://nobodytoldmethat.libsyn.com
Doug Perry/ Get Hired RDH: https://gethiredrdh.com
This TIPisode has been transcribed for your viewing pleasure:
Michelle Strange: A Tale of Two Hygienists presents this week’s TIPisode: Quick and easy tips to keep you up to date and presented by the experts in the profession. Now, get ready for your unofficial TIPisode.
Teresa Duncan: Hi. My name is Teresa Duncan, and I’m the host of the Nobody Told Me That! podcast. I’m back for another TIPisode with you, and what I wanted to talk to you about today is your opportunities if you decide to leave hygiene or you’re looking to step away from hygiene.
So, just very quickly, my background is business, and I really love insurance and business, and I’ve coached a ton of offices. I don’t do it anymore, but I have worked with so many clinical team members who wanted to do just something else. With all of the PPE and the infection control, more and more of you are starting to look at other alternatives besides being actually in the operatory.
So I just wanted to give you a couple ideas of what was out there. And, of course, before you go for any of these, you’ll need to take a look at your resume and make sure it’s all gussied up. I know Doug Perry has some really good information for you. I know he’s been a frequent guest on the podcast as well, so I would definitely look up his resume and interviewing tips.
What a good hygienist could do — and when I say good, I should qualify that and say a good business-minded hygienist could do — is to move into the business side of dentistry.
Now, ideally, you would want to make the same, of course, what you’re making, and so just to let you know, some of the salaries out on the business side are actually pretty high, especially if you get in with a corporate office. So you will routinely hear managers making anywhere from $75,000 to $100,000, and then there’s bonuses usually involved with that. And, if they’re really running a true corporation, like a big operation I should say, then of course their income goes up.
If you are looking to go into the business world — and you know, it could be ergonomics. Who knows what it could be — you’ll need some basic business understanding. And I know that that’s not things that they teach you in hygiene school. That’s okay. What’s really nice about today’s learning environments is that there’s a ton of free websites that will give you a lot of these courses — one is called Coursera, C-O-U-R-S-E-R-A, Coursera — and there’s just — if you Google “business webinars,” YouTube is full of them as well.
I want you to take a look at operations expenses, how inventory effects the bottom line, profit and loss statements, and how you’re able to take a look at that. Now, if I read those out — if you were kind of cringing while I read all that off, that’s okay. It’s pretty easy to learn when you work with it all of the time. It just seems overwhelming to you right now because you’re not dealing with it on a daily basis.
If you’re having numbers meetings in your office, it’s like that but just on a bigger level. And, once you get to understand the numbers behind the practice, it all starts to click. So don’t be overwhelmed with that.
You will definitely need to be able to work with Word and Excel. And, if that’s something that you’re already familiar with, that’s great. You’re already ahead of the game. But, if not, Microsoft has a ton of free classes on this, and YouTube is full of videos on how to use Word and Excel.
If you plan on doing any presenting or you go into a corporate environment, you’ll probably need to know PowerPoint as well so you can put together some presentations.
I would also recommend looking for some conflict resolution courses. And, again, you can find these for free or very cheap just to see what it’s all about. Now, if it really piques your interest, you can go deeper of course, but conflict resolution when you’re in management is one of the skills that, unfortunately, we tend to learn on the fly. But there’s really tried-and-true systems behind it, so I just urge you to do that.
Now, think of it — let’s flip it, actually, and think about the clinical side. Maybe you want to stay in clinical dentistry but you’re not necessarily wanting to gown up and do all that stuff that you’re doing now. You want to maybe take a different roll in the practice but still stay clinical. So you can look at working with some corporate positions. And I know you’re having some really good talks about that on other TIPisodes, but you could work with a corporation and see if you can work your way up to being a hygiene manager or a regional manager or a mentor.
Some corporate positions, actually, are mentoring of younger hygienists. You know, one of the issues that corporates have — and I think now everybody’s having it — is they were dealing with a huge turnover of providers, doctors, and hygienists. So having somebody in there that can help soothe that — and that’s where your conflict resolution courses come in — is very, very helpful.
You could also take a look at working for the insurance carriers. Insurance carriers often will hire hygienists for their first-level reviews, and that’s basically, you know, you’re taking a look at the claim and the radiographs and all the supporting documentation and deciding whether or not the doctor needs to really eyeball this. So there’s a lot of opportunity there.
Many of the sales reps — or not sales reps but provider reps that I’ve dealt with at carriers were former hygienists or office mangers, and then they just naturally moved into the insurance role. So take a look at that. Take a look at the larger carriers in your state and see if you can go to their website and find out if they have any openings. And the good thing about them is you will have a steady salary and you will have benefits, and so that’s a little bit more stable than going to work in private practice.
I’d also take a look at possibly coaching. Now, coaching, you don’t have to set up a full consulting company. You don’t have to learn everything about hygiene in order to teach it. If you have a niche and you’re really good at something, focus in on that niche. Don’t think you have to be all things hygiene. Focus in on your niche.
Some possibilities. Maybe you’re really good at assisted hygiene. Maybe you’re really good at teaching scheduling of hygiene. Believe it or not, that’s something that is not very — that’s a unicorn. Scheduling in itself is a unicorn. There’s not too many people teaching really successful scheduling, and so there’s a hole that can be filled right there.
What about special needs? Are you dealing with any special needs patients? If you are familiar with them and you are comfortable talking to them and working with them, then that’s a skill set on your own that you could niche down into.
Also, are you working with lasers? Are you working in the sleep apnea realm for children? I know children and — right now, pediatric sleep apnea is a huge, huge business right now just because there’s been so much more diagnosis of it, but also just in general sleep apnea. So, if you have experience with a — not just general hygiene but a specific aspect of hygiene and you really, really like it, that’s what you want to become known for.
Start with letting your reps in the area know that, hey, I’m available for training. I’m happy to go in and help if you need. That’s how most of the hygiene consulting starts. That’s how most business consulting starts. In dentistry, you start local, and you get to know some of the offices around you, and you will then start to get better with your marketing. It’s a process.
So you could absolutely do a couple things to stay in dentistry. So, to recap real quick, there’s the business side of it where you could go into operations. That’s really what you’re looking at, operations. You may possibly want to look at teaching the operations of hygiene if you’re very well versed in that. You’re going to want to brush up on your business skills. Take that class on profit and loss. Take the Word Document class, Excel, PowerPoint, all of that. Communications and conflict resolution courses are key, so don’t forget about that piece.
And then, clinical, there’s all sorts of room for clinical. Lots of corporates are hiring. Pretty much right now there’s a lot of openings for hygiene department heads and department mentors in the corporate setting. I mean, as you know, there’s just a lot of job shifting going on right now, so check into that dream job that you thought you wanted a couple years ago. Chances are there might be an opening right now because there is so much shifting around.
So, if you’re saying to yourself, “You know what? Forget it. I’m hanging in the towel –” I’m hanging in the towel — throwing in the towel. I’m so sorry — “I’m throwing in the towel,” I would love for you to just keep your degree up just in case. Do whatever the bare minimum is to maintain your degree because you may decide to jump back into it should this whole infection control, PPE, all of this get more refined, we get better guidance, and we may be able to have a more slimmed down version of it. You may want to go back to it, so don’t let it go. And, also, if you’re wanting to move more in health care, don’t let that degree lapse either because you’re going to need those credentials to keep moving up the career ladder.
So those are my tips for moving beyond the operatory. And, if that sounds familiar to you, it’s because Doctor Tony Stefanou and I, we teach a course called Beyond the Operatory, and it’s about once a year — twice a year actually. We’re going to — we just had a live virtual conference, and we’re looking to do another one this year. It just goes over your career opportunities. We’ll definitely let A Tale of Two Hygienists know about it. Both Michelle and Andrew have gone through the course, and so if you have any questions about it, ask them. But we’ll give them a heads up when we schedule the next one.
But, as far as dentistry goes, I do hope you stay in dentistry. I love it so much, and I hope you’re not looking to move away from it. But, if you decide to move out of the clinical arena, there’s opportunities for you so you can still stay in the industry that we love — I’m assuming that you love it because you’re still listening to podcasts about it — and there’s a way to stay in it without necessarily sacrificing your thoughts about health and safety for yourself and your family.
So brave new world out there. Just lots of stuff happening. Giving you some room to think about it, I want you to give yourself permission to actually sit back and think about it and do the what ifs. Forget about the cons. Don’t worry about the cons. Just start going, “What if? What if? What if?” You might find that it’s more appealing than you think it is.
So, with that being said, I do hope you check out my podcast. If you are in the mood for business knowledge, then you can check it out. It’s called Nobody Told Me That!. Or you can visit my website. It’s called oddeseymgmt.com. I have a ton of free resources and webinars on that site so you can get a head start on the insurance and business part of it.
I hope this has been helpful, and hopefully I’ll be back with another TIPisode for you all. Thank you.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at [email protected], and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.