Advice for the Recent Dental Hygiene Graduate

Being a recent dental hygiene graduate is full of emotion. For one, relief that you made it through a really tough program! Sadness that you won't see your new best friends that you've been hanging out with every day for the last two years, and nervousness as you set out to find your perfect job. We've been compiling advice from hygienists all over the US and Canada for you recent grads! Things they wish they would've known when they graduated, how to keep hygiene instresting, and how to be dental hygiene for the long haul.

"Try and get as much experience temping in multiple offices as possible. You're able to find out what you like and most of the time, temping can lead to a permanent job."  Courtney Calder

"Be confident, especially in your knowledge and skills. However, you must still be teachable and know that you are still going to learn something new every day." Mandy Faucette, graduated in 2012

"The advice I would get be after 30+years is to get to know your patients. Build a relationship. You'll help them want to improve their oral health and do what you ask when they know you care. It's simple. But very powerful."  Karen Alston

"I would say my best advice is to value your education and be willing to continue learning. I think we are very well educated and that sometimes we are discredited, by dentists, our patients who think we're the same as assistants, and even each other when people go to different schools. But we are very knowledgeable and have all the knowledge and skills that we need to provide excellent patient care. We need to be confident about that. But at the same time, we also need to be willing to learn from our peers and search out the latest information that is continually being released so we can make sure we are providing the best patient care."  Chanci Oyler, graduated in 2008

"You have a professional degree, but your learning doesn't stop now. Take the time to develop yourself personally, gain emotional intelligence, and have courage. Your courage will help you as you evolve professionally but it will also help you uphold your integrity and your dental hygiene oath. Remember the galaxy is your limit!" Jazmin Haley

"When you first graduate, trying to find the perfect job can be tough. Take your time and do a lot of temping to see what you like in an office, what you don't, and to be exposed to many different software systems, instruments, and office dynamics. Don't stress, which I know is hard, if the perfect 5 day/week office doesn't fall into your lap right away. Just like it dental hygiene school, it all works out! Congratulations on joining an amazing profession!" Melia Lewis, graduated in 2009

"One of the most important things is to keep learning and working on developing your skills, especially in dental hygiene diagnosis and treatment planning, also clinical skills take a while before they develop fully.
Also, if you have a diploma or associates degree, get a bachelor's degree ASAP. It won't affect your income in clinical practice, but you will have more career options later on, in case you want a change from clinical practice Also, even if money is tight, get disability insurance. I worked with someone who was in a car collision soon after graduation, she could not work for six months.."   Linda Douglas

"GET A MENTOR YESTERDAY and Networking really does matter." Elicia Lucpoli

"Pay attention to the ergonomics/kinesiology experts.  Too many careers ruined by bad backs and other chronic workplace injuries in this job.  Avoid working in offices with 12 o'clock delivery." Scott Ross

Thank you to everyone who offered advice to our recent grads!

What advice would you give yourself as a recent gradute?