AvatarPaige Sago asked 1 year ago

Hello,
My name is Paige Sago and I am in the degree completion program for receiving my bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. I am still unaware of what exactly I would like to do in the future regarding this degree. As of right now, I work as a full time hygienist at my office. I work with children one day and I am labeled as the pediatric hygienist at my job. I love working with children and I believe it to be very rewarding. It is my favorite day of the week at my job. I am unsure how I would link children with a different career path other than clinical practice. I was also interested in maybe becoming a representative for Colgate or P&G. I would like to travel and link my love for traveling with educating individuals about their oral health and representing products that I truly believe to better an individuals oral health status. While thinking about educating individuals, a position in public health relations has crossed my mind as well, or even becoming an adjunct professor in my clinic at the school I graduated from. I am really all over the place! I question myself with what are my options? Is there a difference in pay? What time of hours would I be working with this specific job? Thank you for your time and help!

4 Answers
Christine Nathe, RDH, MSChristine Nathe, RDH, MS Staff answered 1 year ago

I question myself with what are my options? I believe you just stated many options, have you considered starting or working in an existing school-based dental program? Completing your MSDH in dental hygiene would definitely help you become more marketable and give you some great experience in the areas you mentioned.
Is there a difference in pay? That I do not know, it depends on the school and your office…

What time of hours would I be working with this specific job? You could do a little of everything possibly-maybe practice one day per week, teach a few days a week and consult with a company other days…

Phyllis A. Martina, RDH, MBAPhyllis A. Martina, RDH, MBA Staff answered 1 year ago

Continue your education. You are on the right path by getting your degree. Go on to get your master’s and then doctorate. If you decide to teach (a wonderful career choice, I did it for over 10 yrs), advanced degrees are essential. If you decide to work for Colgate, a master’s degree is required for a professional education positions and a doctorate is necessary for research.
Interview people who are in positions you think you may like to find out about the educational requirements, skills needed, responsibilities, hours, benefits, and salary. Find the position that fits best with your life and goals. Good luck!

Alice M. Horowitz, RDH, MA, PhDAlice M. Horowitz, RDH, MA, PhD Staff answered 1 year ago

More education is always valuable, congratulations on getting your bachelor’s degree. In my experience, dental hygienists generally earn more income in clinical than they do in say, public health or academia. There are, of course, always exceptions. Regarding your interest in working with children you could look for a entry level position in research that focuses on rearing cavity-free children. Also, i urge you to think beyond a bachelor’s degree toward a master’s degree which would provide you with more experience to work in either public health, academia, or private industry. Its OK to be “all over the map” at this stage. Look for opportunities that sound like they are in one of your lanes. Good luck!

Margaret Lappan Green, RDH, MSMargaret Lappan Green, RDH, MS Staff answered 1 year ago

All dental hygienists should pursue lifelong learning. Especially within baccalaureate and master degree curricula, you should research the array of educational tracks now available in dental hygiene, as this is an appreciable investment in time and finances and the return should yield them with a set of diverse, interdisciplinary competencies, thereby making them marketable. For example, Old Dominion University, Gene W. Hirschfeld School of Dental Hygiene has a graduate degree program in dental hygiene that exposes the student to studies in a variety of disciplines, and interdisciplinary learning in areas such as, education, research, and public and global health. You may gain more specific information by contacting the Graduate Program Director, Dr. Densie Claiborne at: dclaibor@odu.edu.
As for having a diverse aspiration for education, public health, business, etc, you must wisely examine the graduate program offerings to see if it enables you to engage in interprofessional learning opportunities that will provide you with a range of competencies inclusive of dental hygiene but not exclusive to dental hygiene, as today frequently commands a generalist. For those unsure of the career path to pursue, they would be well served by conversing with experts serving in the seven professional roles of the dental hygienist. These one-on-one interactions would enhance their understanding of the requirements, challenges, and joys associated with each career, and help paint a clearer picture of a journey they might wish to actualize.
For teaching in dental hygiene, be it as an adjunct or a full-time career, a baccalaureate degree may be viewed as the minimum criteria. However, this is only the starting point for anyone aspiring a role in higher education. Now that a doctoral degree in dental hygiene exists, we no longer view the Master of Science in Dental Hygiene as the terminal degree. Many universities prefer and may require a terminal degree, along with research, peer-reviewed publications, community service, and teaching excellence in order to achieve promotion and tenure consideration in higher education.