Monthly Archives: July 2015

Cindy Johnston: Dental Assistant Profile

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy Johnston about her experience in the dental field. Right now, she is temping with Dental Temps Professional Services and travels around the Northeast Florida area to where she’s needed. She’s most recently been working for practices St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Fernandina Beach.

It’s rare to speak to someone who’s been in the same profession for a few decades, someone who’s seen the ups and downs and the ins and outs and still loves doing her job.

Johnston talked about some of the changes she’s seen in dentistry over the last 30 years she’s been in the business. “Going from using charts and day ledgers to computer systems was a big switch,” she said. She also remarked on the the change of x-ray film development in the digital age. “When I first got into dentistry, you took the x-rays and you had to develop them in the darkroom,” she said. Johnston talked about the development process, which required several chemicals, rinsing the slides in water and hanging them up to dry.

Another big change Johnston talked about was the implementation of safety accessories. “When I first started out, we didn’t even wear masks, gloves or lab coats,” she said. Johnston said he change came about in the mid to late 80’s when people began wearing gloves and masks in response to the AIDS epidemic. “Back then AIDS was more prevalent,” she said. “There was a big scare, but with more education we don’t have as big of a fear of AIDS as we had then.” Though there are and have been scares of hepatitis C and tuberculosis in more recent years, they do not compare to the severity of the scare of AIDS, she said.

When I asked her what she likes most about her job she told me it was her patients. “You get to know them, and if you see them often enough, you become friends,” she said, adding that she’s had loyal patients, one of whom has been following her for ten years. Johnston said it is very gratifying to be part of a team that helps others. Some of the offices she’s worked in specialize in cosmetic dental work, and she said she’s enjoyed helping patients feel better about their appearance. “I’ve seen patients come in with their whole smile line badly decayed, and some patients had teeth that were extremely crowded, and some of them were missing teeth,” she said. “When you restore that, it literally is a life changing event for those patients,” she said. “It is very rewarding when you know you’ve helped with that.”

Introducing Our Series of Interviews with Dental Professionals

Over the next few weeks I am going to be talking to dental professionals about their trade and hearing their personal stories. Something that has always interested me as a writer is why people choose the jobs they do and what keeps them there; what made them decide dentistry was for them; how did their career begin; etc. Those in the dentistry field are very passionate about their jobs and about their patients, and I am excited to hear their stories and be able to tell them to you. To kick off the series, I will  be interviewing Cindy Johnston, a dental assistant who has been in the field for 30 years.


A little reassurance you’re on the right track

This week I did something I swore I wouldn’t do.

After hearing a lot of chatter from colleges and seeing Facebook posts, I did a Google search for the best and worst jobs of 2015. Apparently, from what I’ve been reading and hearing, news reporters—and really any job having to do with the news media—was somwehere on the worst list. So I looked into it, and, man, was it true. It’s really depressing when your profession is rated no. 1 worst job on in the United States for 2015 by Forbes.

But you know what’s not on any of the worst lists? The dentist. At the complete opposite end of the spectrum from my news reporting job, the dentist topped the charts in January with the best job in America based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predictions on which 100 jobs will grow the most between 2012 and 2022. Dentists and dental hygienists continue to rank near the top of all of these list year after year. The careers picked for the U.S. News and World Reporting’s 25 best jobs of 2015 shine when it comes to salary, work-life balance and expected employment growth, and dentist is at the very top.

According to U.S. News and World Reporting, dentists have the best job for four reasons:

1. A low unemployment rate of 0.9 percent.

2. A decent work-life balance, especially compared to other health-care jobs (and other jobs in general, I say).

3. The pay, which according to the report is excellent. Dentists earned an average wage of $168,870 and a median hourly wage of $72.74 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

4. The employment outlook. The BLS projects employment for dentists will grow 16 percent between 2012 and 2022, adding 23,300 jobs.

But the job of dental hygienist isn’t following far behind. Coming in at no. 5 best job in the country, the dental hygienist’s median salary is $71,000 with an unemployment rate of 1.7 percent. Expected job openings in this career are estimated at 64,200.

So, in conclusion, those of you looking for a job in the dental industry: do not worry. It seems as if there are going to be plenty of jobs to go around in one of the best industries in which to be employed. In other, unrelated news, perhaps I should start considering a career change.

Stressed? Let’s Dance!

It’s Wednesday — half way through the week. Are you feeling your stress levels rise? Are you thinking about Friday already? I’m with you. Here’s an informative link with 10 tips to help youhappy children dancing on a white background, healthy life, kid' deal with stress that all take less than a minute to do. But I’m not too sure that no. 10 really works. If I am stressed out and chewing gum, I tend to chew often and pop my gum without being aware I’m doing it and then wonder why my jaw aches later. And besides, dental professionals know gum is a no-no at work. Tips 2, 3 and 9,  I practice daily. I converted from a sit-down to a stand-up desk about three years ago. It made a big difference in my state of mind and physical wellbeing throughout the work day. Often I’ll take five and play some tunes, sway, dance and sing along. My favorite take five song is “American Pie” by Don McLean. Stand up, smile and get your dance on!

Read More Tips at Huffington Post


Interviewing in the Millennial Age

I have a lot of friends who do the hiring for their respective companies, and I’ve used them as resources when thinking about blog topics. In the past I’ve asked them for information on what they like to see on resumes, what they like to see in cover letters and what qualities they look for in potential job candidates.

But today I’m going to talk about something they hate: millennial disconnect.

The number one complaint I’ve heard from friends and colleagues in hiring positions has to do with what they deem to be poor social skills of the 20-something during an interview. While they’ve all agreed the resume of the millennial is usually top-notch, the interpersonal connection is lacking at best.

Being right on the border of the millennial generation myself, I unfortunately know what they are talking about. Us millennials are connected—extremely connected, in fact—but not to reality. We live in an online world. We connect using social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. We can talk to people we work with through email without ever having a face-to-face conversation with them. We don’t even ever have to speak to our friends or relatives anymore with the invention of text messages.

This translates to interviews. My brother-in-law, Rob, does the hiring for a technology company in Chicago. He said there have been several times he’s interviewed an applicant who has an incredible resume and, based on credentials, could really excel at Rob’s company. When he interviews these candidates, however, he said they cannot hold a basic conversation. He said he found they could talk all day long about the technical aspects of the job, but couldn’t answer questions like “What do you do for fun outside of work?” or “How would you handle a situation when one of our clients is unhappy with your performance.” Because the job requires customer service, Rob’s had to turn down a lot of candidates who are highly qualified on paper.

In this CNBC article titled “Why millennials have a tough time landing jobs,” Kip Wright, a senior vice president with ManpowerGroup staffing company said Millennials have been technology enabled from the minute they were able to crawl, so they have a different way of connecting and a different way of engaging, and as they struggle with a traditional interview.

In dentistry, it is extremely important to show you have the interpersonal skills necessary to do your job when you’re being interviewed by a potential boss. While jobs in the dental profession require a lot of mechanical skill, they also require a lot of customer service, as your job is literally working on your client’s body. I cannot think of another profession, other than similar medical professions, where customer service is as important.

This CNN article “How to beat the millennial stereotype” points out something else that can be against millennial job hopefuls: the millennial reputation of having an inflated ego. CNN’ Chief Business Correspondant Christine Romans writes that hiring managers assume the millennial generation is straight out of a “Girls” episode. “If you watch, you’ve seen one character, Shoshanna, spend the better part of the season crashing and burning in job interviews,” she writes. “Millennials have a reputation for having exaggerated self-worth, an aversion to hard work, and parents who gave them too much and expected too little (Google the phrase “Millennials at work” and you’ll see what I mean).”

Romans outlines six tips for millennials in the quest to beat that reputation and land a job.

1. Be aware of the stereotype and take special care not to reinforce it.

2. Don’t begin the interview by asking how quickly you will make manager.

3. Clean up your social profile.

4. Make sure you’re not skipping student loan payments (Romans writes that many employers run credit checks on their candidates.)

5. Ditch the fancy business words.

6. Know the company.

I have to be honest, I’ve had a really difficult time breaking the stereotype myself. Often times, my husband, who teeters on the boarder of Generation X, has to tell me when it’s time to put down the phone or to stop looking at my Facebook, and he sometimes asks why I text my friends all day long. I have resigned myself to the fact that it’s just ingrained in me now. But the thing is, it shouldn’t show through in an interview. When talking to people who have the power over your hiring, you have to 100 percent connect with them.

Something my husband and I do before interviews to ensure we’re ready to connect is enlist the other to be a mock interviewer. A few months ago I was looking for a job, and Jim would pretend to be an editor and ask me all kinds of questions, both professional and personal, to make sure I was ready to answer whatever was asked of me during the real interview. We all know the importance of a first impression, so when going into your next interview, no matter which generation your a part of, remember the importance of an old fashioned connection—one that isn’t Internet related.