We spend a lot of time at work, so feeling at home in the workplace is especially important. When your environment is comfortable, you’re more likely to confidently take chances and grow in your career, network with and learn from your peers, and provide the best care to patients. And isn’t this what dental assisting is all about?
Latonya P. agrees that an ideal work environment can make a big difference when it comes to career satisfaction. “Our lives tend to center around our work, so it’s important to find the office that fits us,” she says.
When you’ve found the right dental office and are thriving professionally there, this is the best feeling ever. How can you tell that the dental office has become your second home? Below, we take a closer look at some telltale signs.
1. You’ve Always Wanted to Work in the Dental Office
For some, working in the dental office has been a lifelong dream. These dental assistants have enjoyed going to the dentist’s office ever since they were young. They also may have considered their very first dentist, hygienist and dental assistant to be their “superheroes” and role models. In these cases especially, growing into a dental career probably felt a lot like coming home.
This was true for Melissa A., CDA. “I fell in love with the dental health field at a very young age,” she recalls. “At 6 years old, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up — and my answer was: a dental professional. I always knew I wanted to help give people the smile they’d always wanted.
“As I grew older, my desire became more layered,” Melissa continues. “I wanted to give someone the opportunity to have the confidence to smile, eat, speak and laugh, and have the chance to live their life to its fullest. I never truly knew how big of an impact the health of someone’s teeth could have on their quality of life until I became a dental assistant.”
2. You’ve Been Told You’d Be a Great Dental Assistant
Have you always heard that you seem born to work in the dental field? Those who grew up fascinated with teeth and oral hygiene probably are familiar with friends and family pointing this out. Some also credit past teachers and mentors for recognizing their interests and skill sets, and for guiding them toward a job in the oral healthcare field. Others say they always seemed to have the knack for customer service that is so important in a dental assistant role — and that this was recognizable all along.
For instance, Rosemary B., CDA, recalls when her local dentist offered her a job in the dental office — based on her exceptional people skills alone. “My local dentist came into the little general store where I was a cashier,” Rosemary elaborates. “He said he liked how I knew his name and those of my customers. He later brought his wife, and they asked me if I wanted to work for them.”
3. Your Colleagues Are Like Family
Another sign that the dental office is your home-away-from-home is when your colleagues seem like family to you. It can be both reassuring and inspiring to work alongside like-minded professionals who believe in you, and who have the same passion and career goals as you do. Tight-knit dental teams share day-to-day experiences, support and knowledge — since you spend so much time together and can truly relate to one another.
“I am very fortunate to work for a doctor who is willing to teach me every day and sees the potential that I have. I have a profound interest in the dental field and enjoy working with supportive people who truly care about one another, and about patients’ health and well-being,” says Shelby W.
4. … And Your Patients Are Like Family, Too!
For many dental assistants — especially those who have been with the same practice for a long time — it’s not uncommon to also forge lasting friendships with patients. You might feel at home in the dental practice if you look forward to seeing patients come back to the office, in part because you have a lot to catch up on!
Kristin K. always looks forward to chatting with patients whom she’s gotten to know as a dental assistant. Chairside conversation comes so easily for them! “I talk to patients like we’re out on the town,” she shares. “I ask them, ‘How’s your day going? How was your weekend? Any exciting plans coming up?’ And they’ll ask me these things, too.”
5. Your Career Is Not About the Money
Another sure sign you feel at home in the dental office is that you consider your work to be personally rewarding, and not just a means to a paycheck. This is true for the many dental assistants who say that helping patients is among the top rewards of the job. Most dental professionals agree they were originally drawn to the dental healthcare profession by a calling to serve and to bring health and joy to others.
“Being a dental assistant is all I have ever known,” shares Jodie S., CDA. “I have been passionately dedicated to this field for over 20 years. Dental assisting is now a part of my identity and who I am. This is what I have been called to do.”
6. You Feel Inspired to Grow Professionally
Lastly, if working in the dental office has you feeling excited about growing your career, then you’re likely in the right place! And you probably feel inspired to learn all there is to know about your chosen profession. Motivated dental assistants are likely to seek out continuing education opportunities, become qualified to perform expanded duties, and more. Does this sound like you? Jessica L., CDA, can relate.
“The dental field is where my heart lies, and I would like to obtain as much education in the dental field as I possibly can,” Jessica shares.
“My grandfather used to always tell me that people can take all sorts of things from you, but they can never take away your education. This is the motto that I have learned to live by and the reason why I aspire to continuously learn all that I can in the dental field — so that not only can I always keep it near and dear to my heart, but also share my knowledge with my students, colleagues and patients.”
Do you feel at home in the dental office? Tell us why!