two clinicians

Updated September 14, 2020

One of the great things about a career in dental hygiene is how flexible the job is. At one point, when my kids were little, I sometimes worked as few as two days a month. It was perfect. But as flexible as the scheduling can be, once you commit to a day, the flexibility ends. You can’t take a long lunch for a doctor’s appointment, or pop out for your child’s school program. When you are scheduled, you are scheduled. That’s where temping can be perfect. 

Meet Kelly, the Temp Hygienist

Kelly Divito, RDH, BS, is a dental hygienist, a mommy to eight-year-old Anthony, and an Army wife. That’s a lot of balls in the air, which makes flexibility the key to making her life work. Kelly started her hygiene career in 2008 after graduating from The Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!), and since then, Kelly has practiced in Columbus Ohio, Augusta, Georgia, Sierra Vista, Arizona, Virginia, and now Maryland.

Today, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kelly’s son is attending school virtually and her husband travels for work. Given these new demands on her time, Kelly is glad to have temp opportunities that allow her continuing income, more flexibility, and fewer permanent commitments so that she can manage her home life while continuing to practice dental hygiene.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Kelly and talk more about temping in the dental industry. Below are some great insights from our interview about getting the most out of temping.

Finding Dental Temp Opportunities

Amanda: How do you find offices that are looking for temps, especially when you are new in town?

Kelly: It depends on the area. But the first thing I do is reach out to the local ADHA chapter to get a feel for the area and to find my people. I check out DentalPost to see both permanent and temp jobs in the area and update my profile so that employers can see me. Additionally, I update my LinkedIn, Facebook, and resume. I even had Doug Perry at Get Hired RDH help me update my resume when I saw I was moving to a tight job market. I knew I needed to shine to get work there. I’m also an Independent Professional Educator on behalf of Waterpik, and that’s a great way to get into offices and see the dynamics before accepting a position.

What to Bring to Your Dental Temp Job

Amanda: What do you bring with you to a temp job?

Kelly: I have a “Temp Folder” I bring to every job. I will not be paid as a 1099. We are not independent contractors!  I make sure to bring all the paperwork to be put on payroll so that I’m paid properly and not left with the entire tax burden. My folder includes:

  • W-4
  • Copy of my driver’s license
  • Copy of my Social Security Card (or passport works too)
  • Voided blank check for direct deposit
  • Resume
  • Copy of my dental hygiene license
  • CPR certification
dental tackle box

I also have a tackle box that I bring with me so that I know I have the supplies I need to do my job well and within OSHA standards. It’s pretty full, but you’d be amazed at the times I’ve gone into offices where they don’t have proper supplies. I like to stock up at conferences on the trade show floor, free samples are the best! In my box I have:

  • A clock that sits on the counter so I can stay on time
  • My Q-optics loupes and light
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Gloves and Level 3 Masks
  • Prophy Angles and all grits of prophy paste
  • ESA Prophy Angles for those offices that aren’t sterilizing their handpieces between patients
  • A scrub jacket and a bag to bring it home, if a jacket isn’t provided
  • A lock just in case the office provides a locker for my belongings
  • Patient glasses — I’m surprised at how many offices don’t have these
  • Name tag
  • Earplugs — I bought Denplugs earplugs off Amazon for high-frequency protection
  • Business cards — I just had some printed from Vistaprint
  • Cavitron and inserts — I keep that in my trunk just in case
  • A framed copy of my current license and CPR card.
  • Notebook and pen for office notes — names, specific protocols, etc.
  • Tackle box bought on Amazon

Bringing Your PPE

While the practice should be able to provide PPE, these are not normal times and industry shortages are real. Always ask in advance what will be provided. We recommend having a fitted N95 mask and bringing any additional PPE if you can as a backup. It’s important for you to feel mentally and physically comfortable, especially when working in a new environment.

Tracking Your Hours

Amanda: How do you track your hours?

Kelly: I downloaded an app called HoursKeeper. It’s really handy for keeping track of not only my hours but who I’ve worked for and when. I always ask when payday is and I put a reminder in my phone to make sure I’ve been paid and paid correctly. Since we move around with the Army, I also need to keep track of how many hours I’ve worked to obtain reciprocal licensure (come on Nationwide licensure!). This app is a lifesaver for that info. I also like to volunteer at local clinics and events, so I have another app called Volunteer Tracker where I can keep track of my clinical volunteer hours. It all adds up!

What You Need to Know

Amanda: What else do you think dental professionals need to know before they go temping?

Kelly: Some of it should go without saying, but confirm the dates and times, show up on time, and look professional. Be flexible but don’t compromise your license. Temping is great for the benefit of coming and going as it works in your life. I enjoy meeting new people and learning new systems. This is a great way to be exposed to both.

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Temp

Temping has opened doors for part-time employment and networking with other dental professionals. I always ask for other hygienists’ phone numbers in case opportunities arise for CE or temping around the area. If an office doesn’t work out for you, then you have the opportunity to politely decline their next availability.

Remember you are representing yourself and your profession. We all know there are pros and cons to temping, Kelly has given us a great peek into how to successfully navigate the temp hygienist role on your own terms and make dental hygiene the flexible, inflexible job.

With DentalPost’s Temp, there has never been a better time to start temping. Ready to get out from behind the screen and put your job search in high gear? Get started today and check out temp jobs in your area.

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