Mentor Advice Forumpractice management.
Ann Cote asked 2 years ago

I have my masters in Healthcare Administration, but I find with only clinical dental hygiene experience and no real management experience I will never be able to move up and on to further my future and career. Any advice?

8 Answers
Lillian J. Caperila, RDH, MEd Staff answered 2 years ago

Were there any mentors in your master’s program that could direct you to seeking work in viable companies or hospitals? Maybe reflect on the courses you took and how they could relate to a potential position in either a school, university, hospital, nursing home, and even an insurance company that deals with dental claims.

I have found that in some companies, it is all about the timing and their need. If a company is seeking a new individual with young ideas and they don’t want to pay them an exuberant salary, they get in the door quicker. Otherwise, some have to take a job that may not be exactly what they want initially but have to stick it out for a few years to GAIN the experience, and then they are viable to employ.

Tammi O. Byrd, RDH, BS Staff answered 2 years ago

I would start by looking for management positions in large dental offices and/or clinics. Your dental hygiene knowledge would be valuable and from there you can acquire the management experience that could take you into other healthcare settings.

Dolores M. Malvitz, RDH, BA, MPH, DrPH Staff answered 2 years ago

Did the master’s program not include some sort of practicum or experience guided by a health administrator/mentor of some kind? Think that sort of mentoring is common, in most schools of public health—and may even be an accreditation guideline. I’d go back to that academic unit, and ask whether they have connections with alumni, who might offer such opportunities (but: do NOT expect to be paid for that interval).

Christine Nathe, RDH, MS Staff answered 2 years ago

I am not sure if you are interested in staying in dental, but I am thinking since you chose a MHA you may have wanted to go into a hospital or health system? Maybe take a non-management position in health care, that will give you more experience in that area and hopefully move up into management. Hope this helps!

Laura A. Mallery-Sayre, RDH, BSDH, MSDHEd Staff answered 2 years ago

My first question is to determine what aspect of health care administration you are interested in. Are you interested in pursuing a leadership role in a closed panel dental group, a hospital setting, a nursing home,  an educational institution, a private practice, a government setting or a public health setting?
There are opportunities in all of these arenas. Dental hygiene schools are always looking for good faculty and an individual with clinical experience is a true asset. This would be a great place to start as every educator truly utilizes management skills. Seek out others who are in roles that you aspire to and see if these hygienists would be willing to mentor you, even on a voluntary basis. You should willing to start a a bottom level management position and then work your way up.
I was in dental practice management for over 40 years and it started by first being an educator and then by managing three private practices. Each experience added to the next opportunity until I was hired by an International management group out of California to head up their Dental Hygiene and Periodontal Division.