A Day in the Life of a Dental Hygienist: An Interview with Jill Miller
Missouri Health Connect has always been a place which the aspiring dental hygienist could come to learn the details of a career in this rewarding profession. We recently had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Jill Miller, a registered dental hygienist in Springfield, Missouri. We asked her a few questions about her career path, what she most enjoys about the profession, and what a typical week looks like.
Missouri Health Connect: Jill, you’ve been a dental hygienist in Springfield for a little over five years. Tell us about how you got into the profession.
Jill Miller: I started out as a biology major in my undergraduate program. I knew that I wanted to work in some area of the health care field, so I thought by starting in biology, I’d be getting a good foundation under my belt until I explored other options. During one of my advising sessions, my academic adviser and I were talking about the fact that while I did want to work in the health care field, I wanted to have some flexibility in my job. I didn’t want to have to work overnight shifts or seven days a week or anything like that. She brought up working in a dental practice as a dental hygienist, which I had in the back of my mind already. We started doing some research on the job itself so I could find out more about what it involved, and I decided on going for it. It was actually a bit of a tough road since my university didn’t offer a bachelor’s in dental hygiene, so I ended up transferring to another college, but I’ll say that it was worth the effort and extra time.
MHC: So what do you like most about your job as a dental hygienist?
JM: I’d have to say that for me, the practice that I work in right now is the best part of my job. We have a great staff at our practice and we just have a lot of fun working together and we have some really fun patients that we see. We’re a family practice, so each day can be a little different, which I enjoy also. And I do have quite a bit of flexibility, which is what I ultimately wanted. I work four days a week, which has really been a great schedule for me.
MHC: What does a typical day look like for you, Jill?
JM: Like I said, we see a pretty broad range of patients. Some might be coming in strictly for a preventative visit, but we also see quite a few patients with gum disease or for emergency visits here and there which can mix things up in terms of the treatment we offer. We always start out with a review of the patient charts which we have lined up for the day. This will tell us what types of treatments we can expect and how long it’s been since we’ve seen a patient, as well as the reason for their last visit. We do a 30 minute staff meeting at the beginning of the day as well to go over the day’s visits. This helps to get us all on the same page.
After the staff meeting, I start preparing my exam room with instruments and supplies and I have to make sure that everything is clean and sterile. Then we start to see patients, with each exam varying in length based on the treatment required. These are usually an hour to an hour and a half each. In between visits, I’ll be sterilizing the instruments and preparing the exam room for the next patient. At the end of the day, I go through this process as well.
We were very pleased to be able to ask Jill a few questions to help you understand a little bit more about a career as a dental hygienist from someone currently working in the profession.
Contributing Writer, Missouri Health Connect