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Why can’t dental hygienists find more flexible jobs?

Work is changing. It’s true for professionals in every sector. Businesses are hiring freelancers and consultants instead of full-time workers. People are leaving corporate jobs and starting their own small businesses. The Journal of Family & Consumer Sciences reports that 60 million Americans will be self-employed by 2020. In every sector, people are offering their talents and skills directly to businesses and individuals.

The reasons for this vary among workers. Some need to supplement their incomes as the cost of living increases. Some prefer the flexibility they get by working for themselves. Many dental hygienists share these needs and preferences, but they may not be in a situation to act on them. Dental professionals have traditionally worked for placement agencies or for individual practices. In those cases, it can be hard for dental hygiene professionals to get the flexibility and control they need.

Workers are going for more flexible jobs. Why can’t dental professionals do the same?

In reality, they can. It’s just that until recently, opportunities for flexible work were limited by several factors. Fortunately, today’s technology provides solutions, allowing registered dental hygienists to find work that suits their lifestyles.

RDHs have always pieced together part-time and temporary jobs to build a full work schedule. But in the past, they’ve had to work for an RDH temp agency or juggle part-time schedules to make it happen. This isn’t quite what most people have in mind when they think of increased flexibility and working for themselves.

If you’re a dental hygienist who’s working for an agency or for a practice, here’s what may stand in your way as you seek more control and flexibility.

RDH–practice communication

The biggest factor that keeps RDHs from putting together a work schedule that suits them is communication with dental practices. If you work for a dental hygienist temp agency, you communicate with the agency, not with the practices you work for. There’s little or no direct communication between the RDH and the hiring practice. That makes everything move slowly, and it means you have to work according to the temp agency’s needs, not your own.

Hygienists can skip the agency and look for flexible work on their own, but communication gets in the way here, too. You have to deal with each practice you want to work for, negotiating a schedule and terms that suit you. Doing that kind of legwork (or phone work) is overwhelming. It can be nearly impossible to work out the details.

Fortunately, today’s tools make complex communication easy. Cloud Dentistry allows real-time communication between professionals and practices. When you have all your messages and contacts in one place, it’s easy to stay organized and build a schedule that suits your needs. You can discuss jobs with dental practices and accept last-minute jobs without delay.

Control woes

When you work  for a placement agency, you have very little control. The agency sets your rate and schedule. If the work environment isn’t a good fit, you’re faced with suffering through it or starting over from scratch. Placement agencies may require you to work in places you don’t want to go.

Working directly for a dental practice is like putting all your eggs in one basket when it comes to control. The practice can dictate your schedule and work activities. If you don’t like the work environment, you have to stick with it or start all over and find something else.

Working for yourself is the only way to maximize your control over your career. Cloud Dentistry makes use of cloud-based technology to put control in your hands. When you use Cloud Dentistry to advertise your services, set your own rate and post your availability, it’s simple to put together a schedule of jobs that work for you.

Scheduling problems

Working for a placement agency means answering the agency’s calls and working when they tell you to work. You may need to work for more than one agency or for some combination of agencies and practices, which can make scheduling really complicated.

Without the agency, you’ll have to work the hours your practice manager assigns. You may have a set number of days you can take off, and when those days are gone, they’re gone.

Working for yourself is a different story. When you use an online profile to post your availability and manage your schedule, you can build daily, weekly and monthly schedules that suit your needs. If you have family commitments or even another job to work around, you can find and accept only the jobs that fit within your plans.

Money issues

You’re always subject to the going rate for hygienists in your area, but because placement agencies take a cut, you won’t earn as much as you could without the middleman. You might have the experience and skills it takes to earn more, but you’re stuck with the agency’s predetermined rate for all hygienists who are registered with a dental association.

Working at a single practice or two may get you more money than working through an agency, but your earnings are still capped based on your rate and the number of hours you get. You may get a raise after a while, but these are often dependent on factors beyond your control.

Working for yourself means you can set your own rates. When there’s no middleman to take a cut, practices are willing to pay professional rates that are in line with the local market, your skills and your experience. When you don’t answer to an agency or a practice, you’re free to negotiate a rate that works for you.

You’re a licensed oral health care professional. You deserve to be treated like one.

Taking control of your career starts with self-management. When you treat yourself like a small business and use tools that support your success, you can earn more and achieve the level of flexibility and control you deserve.

Cloud Dentistry provides the tools you need to promote your own brand online and manage your career. Why can’t oral health care professionals get flexible jobs? They can. It’s just a matter of taking charge.