key attributes to look for in a dental hygienistBy: Joyce Kahng, DDS •July 19, 2023
Hiring a dental hygienist goes beyond checking the boxes of professional qualifications and years of experience. This vital role not only contributes significantly to the quality of patient care, but also serves as a cornerstone in building your dental practice’s reputation. That’s why the candidate you choose should be able to harmoniously blend into your practice’s culture and values, while delivering top-notch dental care.
Below are key attributes to look for in a dental hygienist, and how these attributes contribute to a successful dental practice…
The first key quality to look for is technical proficiency.
The field of dentistry is dynamic, with advancements in technology and techniques emerging frequently. That’s why a dental hygienist should not only be proficient in routine procedures like dental cleanings and X-rays but should also demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning and staying on top of the latest advancements. Their knowledge of dental tools and techniques directly correlates with the quality of care your patients will receive.
Also, competence in maintaining and sterilizing dental equipment is equally important for patient safety.
While technical proficiency is important, equally crucial is the ability to communicate effectively. Dentistry involves conveying complex information about oral hygiene and procedures, and a skilled dental hygienist should be able to translate this technical terminology into easily digestible language for patients. This not only aids in patient education but also helps foster trust and comfort. A dental hygienist is often a patient’s first point of contact—making strong communication and interpersonal skills extremely important.
A visit to the dentist can often be an anxiety-filled experience for many patients. A compassionate and patient hygienist can significantly ease this anxiety, making the visit less stressful. Empathy towards patients, understanding their fears, and displaying patience during treatments can transform a daunting dental visit into a comfortable experience.
Compassion and patience can foster patient loyalty and enhance the overall reputation of your dental practice.
Dentistry is a field where the minutest details matter. A dental hygienist with keen attention to detail is better positioned to spot early signs of oral problems, maintain accurate patient records, and ensure adherence to treatment plans. Additionally, this quality becomes critical during tasks like developing X-rays, where precision is non-negotiable.
Physical stamina may seem like an odd requirement, but it is an often-underestimated necessity in the dental industry. Dental hygienists spend a substantial part of their day on their feet, performing tasks that require fine motor skills. That’s why endurance and stamina are significant factors that contribute to their ability to consistently deliver quality care.
In the ever-evolving field of dentistry, a dental hygienist committed to continuous learning is an asset.
Whether it’s a new method of teeth cleaning or a breakthrough study in gum disease, a hygienist that is interested in updating their knowledge can provide more comprehensive care to patients.
Identifying a dental hygienist who embodies these attributes requires a careful and comprehensive approach. It’s crucial to remember that while hiring a hygienist with these qualities might take time, patience, and resources, the investment is worth it. A competent and empathetic dental hygienist can significantly enhance patient satisfaction, build your clinic’s reputation, and contribute to your practice’s success in the long run.
With a clear understanding of the key qualities that you should look for in a dental hygienist, you can now start the hiring process!
Below is a step-by-step guide to help you find the perfect hygienist for your team…
The first step in the hiring process is creating a comprehensive job description. Clearly outline the skills, qualifications, and experience you seek in your ideal candidate. It’s also beneficial to highlight your practice’s values and culture to attract the right candidates. Remember, the job description is your first point of interaction with potential candidates. Craft it in a way that not only defines the role accurately but also presents your clinic as an appealing place to work. You can then post the description on various job search platforms.
Once the applications start rolling in, sift through the resumes, keeping an eye out for the qualifications and experience that align with your job description. This initial screening helps you shortlist potential candidates who appear to be a good fit on paper.
Next comes the preliminary interview, which can be conducted over phone or video call. This initial interaction gives you an opportunity to gauge the candidate’s communication skills, their enthusiasm for the role, and preliminary suitability for your practice. Prepare a set of questions that will help you assess the candidate’s understanding of the role and their approach to patient care.
An in-person interview allows you to delve deeper into the candidate’s qualifications and experience. You can use this opportunity to discuss their previous roles, their approach to certain situations, and their future career aspirations. Also, observe their interpersonal skills and how well they would fit into your existing team.
References from previous employers or colleagues can provide invaluable insights into a candidate’s work ethic, punctuality, professionalism, and other key aspects that might not be immediately evident in an interview setting. Make sure to ask detailed questions that will help you understand the candidate’s suitability for your clinic.
Once you’ve identified the right candidate, it’s time to extend a job offer. Ensure this includes all the necessary details, including the role, responsibilities, compensation, benefits, working hours, and terms of employment. Make sure you communicate all the details clearly and answer any questions the candidate might have.
The hiring process doesn’t end with a job acceptance. A well-structured onboarding program can significantly ease the transition for your new hygienist and accelerate their integration into your practice. Create an onboarding plan that introduces the new employee to your team, familiarizes them with your clinic’s operations, and clearly outlines their role and responsibilities. Regular check-ins during the initial weeks can also be helpful in addressing any issues and ensuring the new employee feels welcome and comfortable.
Ultimately, hiring a dental hygienist is a multi-faceted process that demands careful planning, patience, and a thoughtful approach. Always remember, your goal is to not just fill a position but to find the perfect addition to your dental family.
DOCTOR + FOUNDER