"We should be paid what we are worth!" I am biting my tongue ever so slightly on this one...although I could come up with a few rebuts that would make a hygienist drop her probe.
It seems that we hygienists have gotten ourselves into a real pickle! Wages dropping, schedules that look like a horrible case of mange and more time off than we ever dreamed of having. Without pay, of course.
Yet when I ask the question, "What are you worth, and why?", answers to the first half of my question uncoil like a slinky off the edge of a skyscraper. But nobody seems to be able to answer the second and most important part. WHY?
You see, as an employer, I really don't give a hoot about what you think you should be paid. I am looking at my overhead. And when the hygiene schedule is like swiss cheese, well Suzie, you may have the rest of the day off.
Now wait...I'm not implying that this is rational thinking, I am just stating facts. Because both parties are to blame here; doctors for believing the only thing your hygienist is there to do is clean teeth, and hygienists...for proving them RIGHT!
We want to be appreciated, and valued and respected and and and... and we ought to be. But what about taking a closer look at how we earn these things? Are we creating VALUE for the services we provide? Are we making sure that our patients are being treated according to known statistics? (ie, perio, caries...) Are we giving up on our process because "Our patients don't listen?" or letting everyone leave with a 6 month recall? Are we discussing dentistry or are we talking about our upcoming family reunion? Are we working on reactivation...correctly? Are we turning over rooms for the assistant? Are our actions conducive to, and focused on the success of the practice?
The answer to this mess? Hygienists, we need to clean up our act! Gone are the days when a new graduate could waltz out of school with his or her choice of 10 offices to call home. No longer is status quo an option as a hygienist. And WE are the only ones who can fix it! And when we "tell" our perspective employer "how much we're worth", it just might fall on deaf ears.
Dentistry is in a constant state of change. The role of the dental hygienist has evolved greatly. And because of these points, it is so important to know WHY we are worth the number for which we are asking. We need to have some skin in the game and if we aren't prepared to clearly indicate WHY we are a prudent decision to be made by our new employer how can we possibly expect he or she to know?
The hygienists who enjoy lucrative salary packages clearly know their WHY. And they practice as such. And they are accountable to unwavering high standards. But what is MOST important here, is their employers know why they are willing to pay top dollar and offer impressive benefit packages. And those same doctors ask us, "Can you just clone so and so?"
My answer is yes. So let's get busy colleagues.
By taking responsibility as a professional health care provider, we can fix this. But more importantly than fixing it for ourselves...we are obligated to fix this for our patients.
Doctors or hygienists, I am happy to take the temperature of your current hygiene stats and share some easy effective ways to turn this around. email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you like what you're reading, we would love to hear your comments and feel free to share!