Hello, I got my dental hygiene license in 2012 and my bachelors in health policy and administration in 2013. Finding a dental hygiene job in my area is extremely difficult, but through temping at different offices I found that I do not enjoy private practice. I think I would be more interested in one of the other aspects of dental hygiene that I can pursue with my bachelors degree and I would even be willing to get my masters if needed, but I am completely lost as to what jobs to look for. Most college professor jobs require numerous years of private practice experience before they will consider you. Is it the same way with the other avenues? Could you please give me some guidance as to what type of jobs to look for? I try ‘dental hygiene research’ or ‘insurance review specialist’ and can’t find any results, so specifics would be very, very helpful. Thank you so much!
If you are thinking about a career in research, this is a great choice, but you will need to be prepared. Good researchers are organized, detail-oriented, and able to think outside the box. Investigate the various master’s degree programs and select one where you can conduct thesis research. My interest in research started as a graduate student at University of North Carolina-CH, where I conducted a clinical trial for my thesis project. While in graduate school, investigate completing a research internship at your university or a research-related company. Attend professional meetings such as the ADHA annual session or the National/Global Dental Hygiene Research Conference, network and talk to other researchers. After graduation I took a job as a research assistant at a university where I managed clinical trials. I began attending courses on clinical trial development and design; managing clinical trials; FDA regulations and compliance; ethical aspects of human subject research; and good clinical and laboratory practice. Many organizations such as NIH, the Society of Clinical Research Associates (SOCRA), PharmaSchool (pharmaschool.co), and Barnett Educational training (barnettinternational.com) offer great online and face-2-face continuing education and professional certification courses. There are various career paths at universities, private companies and contract research organizations (CROs) that range from clinical trial manager, research assistant, examiner and site monitor. Keep in mind that you do not have to limit yourself to dentistry; many medical related jobs are available to qualified individuals. I have been active in the research field for over 20 years and have been involved at most every level. If you decide research is a profession you would like to pursue—go for it, it is an exciting and rewarding career.