Overworked. Underestimated. Burnt.
Since the start of the pandemic, the rise of these feelings among hygienists has skyrocketed. The number of hygienists looking to leave clinical hygiene is staggering – it seems everyone is looking for a way out. Most hygienists feel overwhelmed and the stigma that there is no growth in hygiene keeps many dormant.
Many of us are working longer hours to make up for the shortage of staff, and as a result, we are neglecting ourselves. We lose sight of our mindset and self-care, two very important things to keep us going day in and day out. Without a strong mindset and proper self-care regimens, our minds and bodies begin to fail us. We feel overworked and our bodies start hurting. We feel a creeping resentment and as if we are underappreciated. This trickles down to our colleagues and the culture begins to go out of fashion. We begin to feel the exhaustion and begin to look for what’s next. The joy we once felt about our profession is gone.
So how are we going to find joy in all of this? It’s simple, really: don’t stay dormant. To start, take the time to work on yourself. Shift your mindset in favor of gratitude and positivity. Establish a self-care routine that works for your life and stick to it. Be prepared to grow and seek that growth in hygiene. Network with other people you may have gone to school with or worked with in previous offices and see what they are up to. Maybe something they’re doing will spark interest.
Invest in yourself
Invest in your career. Many hygienists do not want to do this. We only take enough CFUs to meet state requirements. We don’t go beyond that and educate ourselves on topics that interest us. We do not keep up to date with products available to patients and therefore fail to educate patients. We are starting to lose sight of what our job is, patient care – showing up every day and putting patients first, educating them where possible so that when they leave they have all the tools to maintain optimal oral hygiene.
Invest in good ergonomics
Take the time to work on your ergonomics. Often when we feel overworked and exhausted, we drop our posture. We give up on some of the strategies that play an important role in our clinical work and find that our backs, shoulders and wrists hurt more. Take the time to invest in learning the right way to move throughout the day, or hire an ergonomics coach.
Leaving a toxic work environment
We allow ourselves to stay in toxic environments that no longer serve us; often we don’t know any better because many of us have worked for doctors for years or started working in a toxic environment outside of school.
But change is such a powerful tool! Once you decide to make a change and remove yourself from a toxic environment, the burnout starts to fade. This is when you will begin to find your joy and your passion.
Network with your peers
Networking is also a very powerful tool. When we network not only with colleagues but also through social media, the possibilities become endless. Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn (to name a few) are brimming with new opportunities for personal and professional growth. You can connect with people in the dental world from all over the country, opening doors you never knew were waiting for you.
Don’t stay asleep. Seek joy again. I promise it’s still there inside of you. Take the necessary steps to find happiness in your career. Our patients rely on us day in and day out, but we have to show up first before we can show up for them. There is growth when you start looking for it. Sky is the limit!