How to Stay Motivated in the Dental Office: Mandy Dennis, RDH Weighs In

DATE: Sep 15, 2017 
AUTHOR: Susanna Scherer RDH

As a dental hygienist, it is important to stay motivated in your everyday responsibilities. When you are dealing with work-related stress, you may lose sight of why you first chose dental hygiene as a career. Finding a way to stay motivated will help you to have a rewarding career in dental hygiene.

Mandy Dennis, a dental hygienist in San Antonio, Texas, is a shining example of how to stay motivated as a dental hygienist. Mandy has been in the dental profession for 20 years and has been practicing dental hygiene since 2010. She began her career as a dental assistant and has experience in general, orthodontic and cosmetic practices.

In 2013, Mandy was brought on staff in her current practice to manage, motivate and educate a team of 18 dental hygienists across five locations. Mandy was kind enough to share some insight on how to stay motivated in the dental office, how she fosters a positive work environment, and how she encourages those around her.

Why do you think dental hygienists lose their motivation?

Mandy: I think it is because we are exhausted by office politics. We have gotten away from just caring for the patient.

As a dental hygienist, how do you personally stay motivated in the office?

Mandy: First of all, I work for an amazing employer. Without question, I know that the first part of a happy day is being able to like where you go to work. In regard to frustration, there are a lot of things we can overcome when we like the people we work with and where we get to do what we love. Second, you must believe in the overall philosophy of the place where you work. Sometimes, we are unable to do our job because we can't believe in the specific mission of where we are. We all have moments when we may not agree with our employer, but how do we speak with him or her, and does he or she respect us for our opinions? It can make finding a compromise so much easier if we believe that our employer respects our opinions.

How do you motivate the 18 dental hygienists whom you manage?

Mandy: When I have dental hygienists before me that are unmotivated, or tired of their day-to-day tasks, I ask them to remember what it was that caused them to apply for hygiene school. I ask them to tell me why they chose to be in dentistry. I talk to them about not just where they are today, but where they want to be in 5 years, 10 years. I then talk to them about how to get that feeling back. Sometimes, it's a change of scenery that's needed. I never want to lose someone, but I would also encourage them to love every day.

How do you avoid the office politics that may contribute to dental hygienists losing their motivation?

Mandy: We have an office policy set in place that allows our dental hygienists to focus on looking at the patient as an individual and not a mouth. It is important that we remember every day that our goal should be to take care of each individual who sits in our chair.

What would you say to a dental hygienist who seems to have lost her motivation?

Mandy: Get back to your passion. Let's take care of people and allow them to get healthy! Also, look at other opportunities available to dental hygienists. I am proud member of COHA and am grateful I have had the opportunity to serve on the COHA board. I encourage all dental hygienists to reach out into their communities and professional organizations to be challenged by all of the possibilities that are waiting to be discovered.

Takeaways

  • Find a mentor to encourage you to stay motivated in your profession.
  • Care for every patient as an individual, not just a mouth.
  • Develop a philosophy statement to stay connected with your passion for dental hygiene.

Why It's Important

In RDH Magazine Cynthia McKane-Wagester, RDH states, "Once you create and commit to your philosophy, then you can find the right dental office that will allow you to practice what you believe." Don't underestimate the power of a positive work environment and a positive attitude! Reconnecting with why you first fell in love with dental hygiene will motivate you to continue providing the best care possible to your patients.