I only have a few more Tuesdays of working before we move. It feels kind of crazy that I am going to be able to be home FULL TIME. It always seemed like we would cut back on the days I was working and then realize how nice my income was and put in more days, haha--but this time its for real (at least for four years, I'm keeping up my Utah license and could easily transfer it to another state depending on where our residency is)!!!
I thought I'd write a post to conclude a four year career as a dental hygienist. I feel pretty lucky, actually, with the places I've been able to work and the experience I've been able to get. I used to worry that if I stopped working I would forget everything and it would be hard to start up again--but I feel like I've got it down so that it'll be easy to jump back in no matter how many years I don't work for.
The first six months post-graduation I worked as a sub all over the place because I couldn't find a position, and I am grateful for that. It gave me a lot of experience with dentists and offices and made me more picky during the interview process because I knew what I wanted to work for. Then I was able to work for three and half years at a periodontal office. This means I saw all the nasty mouths that were referred over from their general dentists--and usually I didn't clean a full mouth, just areas of the mouth, and the rest would get surgery done by the dr. It was a really unique experience and I think it is why I feel so confident in what I do. I did the hardest stuff. I was also lucky that the office had all new and nice equipment so I can now manage all the computer programs and equipment at other offices.
It's interesting, I don't think I realized when I chose to pursue dental hygiene how great of a fit it would be for me. Honestly, the two years of my bachelors were really rough. Not because of the education but more because thirty girls in one classroom for two years isn't really my cup of tea. But I always loved clinicals. My first job made us take some personality tests and answer them only for the workplace. I like to see a job through from start to finish. I like being in control and making my own decisions. I like to interact with people but I don't like group responsibilities-I`d rather know what I'm in charge of so I know it's done. Yes maybe type A.
As a hygienist I greet my patient and go methodically through our appointment. Health history, xrays, cleaning, etc. I have to admit that scraping off those clicks of calculus is probably my favorite part of the job. Nothing better than seeing a clean tooth, knowing the before picture, and feeling like you made a difference in your patients health. I can chat and enjoy the patient's company the entire time and then I do notes and clean the room and sterilize instruments. I even like doing those things -it feels like closure and helps me feel like everything was done perfectly right before moving on. I love that my work doesn't come with me but is neatly finished and there's no worrying after. Funny that such simple things are so enjoyable to me.
The last few months I've been covering two maternity leaves-one in Tremonton and one in Morgan. Both are rural areas and I have seen a lot more perio than I would have anticipated in a general dentist office (other maternity leaves I have done in places like Roy did not have nearly that may perio patients). Both offices had rather iffy policies in place for what exactly happens when you first have a perio patient. Because of my experience I felt perfectly comfortable chatting with the dentist, telling him what I would like to do and what I thought was best for the patient and getting feedback. I even asked for prescriptions to be put on their lists that they hadn't previously had but that I had worked with a lot. I told Sterling the other night that there would have been NO WAY that I would do that when I was just out of school. I would have meekly gone along with whatever they told me to do. It was a little scary to break that ice but what has really boosted my confidence is the way the two dentists have responded--enthusiastically and complimentary. By the end of the first maternity leave the dentist would ask what I thought about future treatment, I'd explain what I thought would be best, he'd usually agree and explain it to the patient and then say things like "If she's got a plan for you then everything's going to go great!" which, obviously, felt awesome. He also gave Sterling an exam and I found a really tiny cavity (I wanted to make sure NOTHING was growing during med school!) and he said "I probably would have missed that, you have sharp eyes!" and turned to Sterling and said "Nothing gets past her."
The current dentist I'm finishing up with has started making similar comments to patients. He'll ask me "Did you find anything?" and if I say no then he'll basically tell the patient the exam is over and he'll just quick look over their mouth to make sure. I've also been amazed at how willing they are to work with me. I am pretty bold to say what types of instruments I'd prefer and he's great with ordering whatever I want. (Granted, they are updating their office, so I'm sure he's just glad I'm updating hygiene as well.)
ANYWAY, to make this long story even longer, I just feel really grateful right now that I have been able to receive the experiences that I have, worked with the people and at the places that I have, and gained the confidence that I have. It makes me feel happy that my hard work in school and then in my profession paid off and that I feel like I am a good hygienist. It's nice to know that my bachelor's degree brought me so much growth and satisfaction, because it might not of had I not been able to get in that experience.
Now I can spend the rest of eternity trying to feel that confident about being a good mom. I have a feeling it's going to take eternity for that one.