My name is Gabriela Rodríguez,RDH, I am continuing my education and planning to graduate next year with a degree in BSDH. I am looking into switching careers because I am not interested in working as a dental hygiene clinician, but I am not sure what are my options realistically. I would like to explore other opportunities that my new degree might bring. Do you work in private practice as a dental Hyigne clinician? Or did you change careers? What are the realistic opportunities for a person with a bachelors degree in dental Hyigne ?
With a BSDH there’s not too much I can think of unless getting a Master’s degree to teach, be in public health or a manager. Could do the OSAP infection control certification program and consult or work in the dental industry
From my perspective, earning my BSDH was the best thing I ever did. It opened up opportunities beyond clinical and broadened my own critical thinking skills, confidence and abilities as a dental hygienist. Education as you know is powerful! For a dental hygienist who has earned the BS, the opportunities are definitely beyond clinical, however clinical with added responsibilities is an option too. Many dental companies only hire dental hygienists who have at least a bachelor’s degree. Teaching in an clinical capacity is an opportunity also that many baccalaureate grads embrace. Public health, research opportunities, advocacy or outside the box ideas are definite possibilities–the paths are many and yours to investigate. I suggest you network in your area with hygiene colleagues and ask further for insight. You have clinical expertise, and now you have studied beyond clinical and have utilized your critical thinking, evidence based research skills and have a broader perspective.
When I earned my BSDH as a degree completion student at the University of Maryland, it immediately propelled me to be very active in my professional organization, ADHA; there I took on leadership roles, was mentored by amazing colleagues and it opened up many opportunities. I became active in advocacy, helped expand our scope of practice, served as President and served as delegate nationally. It also peaked my interest in pursuing my graduate degree, as I taught as a BSDH grad but wanted to go further. I earned my MS in dental hygiene at Maryland, and was faculty and Director of Admissions/Director of Dental hygiene at the University of Maryland, and am now Director at the Fones School of Dental Hygiene. As a future grad, think about the “why” of pursuing the BS, what interests you in your program and what sparked you to go beyond an associates. Follow that lead, network and keep asking! As I stated, education is power, go for it!
Your degree positions you perfectly for entering the corporate world, public health settings or management. I have worked in all of these positions as well as being a dental hygiene educator and researcher interspersed with providing clinical care. My recommendation to you is to join dental hygiene Facebook pages or Linkedin to explore what opportunities are available to you. Welcome to our amazing profession!
Good for you that you are earning your bachelor’s degree. Having a BSCH would likely put you in a position to be on the faculty of a dental hygiene school. But, ideally, you should be thinking of getting a masters degree in a related field if you want other options. For example getting an MPH would put you in a position to apply for positions in city, county and state health departments. It also would make it more likely to be hired in a school of dental hygiene. Keep up the good work and consider getting at least a masters in a field that interests you.
There are many professional roles for dental hygienists and these are outlined in the ADHA Standards for Clinical Dental Hygiene Practice. You will want to identify what area is of most interest to you and then start to connect with others who work in those types of roles. There are many ways to find dental hygienists who work in alternate roles – meetings, social media groups etc. most are very willing to share insights.