Overwhelming Response! So many salary and job questions…

Thank you all for your responses, I have received too many questions about salary and job related issues to answer here.  I wish I could answer everyone, but hopefully my answers to some of who will help others as well.  I will create a FAQ in the material that I am working on that should answer all the questions I can think of!

First, I think it is almost funny that since I launched this post, MSN decides to run an article “Five Surprising Salaries” (by Anthony Balderrama), which kind of shows the difference in salary in real life.  I think paramedics should definitely be paid more, they save lives on a daily basis…  Regardless, dental assistant salaries can vary significantly depending on many (most under you control) variables, and it can be quite a surprise how little and how much a dental assistant can make!

Now, here are some guidelines for some of the e-mail I have received:

1.  Jennifer:  If your back and hands are hurting, then you need to strongly consider the fact that dental assisting is hard on your neck, shoulders and back.  Orthodontic assistants do not always have as much strain, but it still can wear you down.

What I am going to teach through this blog will certainly help you in whatever career you choose, but it is currently geared towards dentistry.  Check back ever so often and try to implement the things you learn in your life, you will be happier and more comfortable.

2.  Tawni:  Your frustration with your pay after 2 years of assisting is shared by many of your professional colleagues (I have received too many e-mails about this to even begin to address everyone, sorry). Pay rate varies from location to location, as everyone tells you, BUT you do not want to be in the “average” pay range for your area.  You want to be the highest paid assistant in your area! That is what I will try to teach you all. You mention you are a hard worker and love what you do, which are both essential elements in being paid more. When was the last time you had a “review” and discussed a pay raise? How did you approach the review? How did you dress? How did you prepare? Are you a pleasant, happy, always smiling person in the office? Do you do the little things that nobody asks you to do? Start by analyzing your work habits and how you represent the office. Do you stand out from the other employees? Do you gossip, complain or just hang out too often?  These are just a few things for you to think about. This blog will definately help you!  

3.  Tina: Working in an clinic for 5 years where you feel the quality of care is not good enough is tough. You can not be the excellent assistant you want to be if you do not believe in the work. How did you last 5 years? First you need to realize that you have the choice of almost any dental practice out there. Most dentists are always looking for exceptional employees! So my question to you is, if you are temping and not able to find a job, why? I hire temps when necessary, and when I find one that stands out, then I either ask her/him if they are looking for a job or I keep their name. Every so often a special person walks into my office, and I want you all to learn how to become that special/magical person. Tina, the next time you temp at an office, evaluate yourself on these critera:  Are you enthusiastic?  Do you dress like you mean business?  Do you wholeheartedly smile all the time?  Do you find work when there is none for you?  Do you go out of your way and ask other team members how you can help make their day easier?  I could go on forever, but you get the point.  Good luck.

4.  Karen:  I feel for you.  Most dental assisting schools teach little to nothing.  How do you expect to gain experience if nobody is willing to give you the time needed to get it?  This is one of the most common issues.  From what I can tell you are very motivated, but somewhat resentful to your lack of education from the DA school. Externships are tough on dentists.  They do not really want to hand their system off onto a newbie and figure you standing around will teach you enough.  It is pathetic, I am sorry.  I myself have fallen into this trap and not given interns enough training – it just is a pain for dentists.  Here is where you start:  For you it is not about money right now, but about building yourself.  You need to be the best “team player” that you can be.  Assisting is only a part of your job.  When you interview for a position, remember that unless extensive experience is necessary, most doctors hire staff within the first few minutes of meeting them (they make their mind up almost immediately).  You need to know how to present yourself, and all that begins with you believing in yourself! So what if you don’t have the experience needed to assist yet?  What other qualities do you have that all dentist die to have in their office…think about it! 

Alright, there are many more questions about assistant salaries and getting a job, but I will write more later.  I have been through most of the issues you all have asked me personally.  I have hired assistants with zero experience even after putting “experience a must” in the ad!  I have been through many interns that came to my office for experience and immediately knew if I would ever hire them!  It is time that someone put all this info together for assistants to allow them to avoid these struggles that are so common.  This blog and its resulting e-book will help each and everyone of you in some important way.

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