The harsh reality.

So I worked on Saturday. And I haven’t hated dental hygiene more than in those 6 hours. I came close to tears the first patient in, and when I went home, I broke down and cried. And that I haven’t done since the beginning of hygiene school.

It was my first day of official hired work at one of the places I’d temped 2 times for. It is actually the place I’d been going to for dental work (and hated it). It was really nice of them to ask me and give me those opportunities though, so even if I didn’t want to take the saturday, I thought I owed it to them to take it. Mistake. Over the course of the 2 days I temped, I’d already decided that I didn’t like it there. Should’ve listened to myself.

The first thing I told them when I came in was that I didn’t remember what to do and what was expected of me. It had been 2 months since I’d last been there and I couldn’t remember the particulars. I knew the basic gist. They were like, Oh well, and I was left to do it. The last 2 times I was there they’d helped me alot which is nice but nothing was ever explained to me, so I never truly knew what was expected of me. They were always like, “here let me do it *rush rush*” and I’d step back. The other hygienist I worked with the first time was reallllllly nice. This time, not so much.

There was essentially no real help for me. There was another hygienist there, but the only question she asked me was “have you worked at any of the other offices?” When I replied no, she didn’t talk to me at all until the end when she said “bye” and left. I tried to ask her some questions during the course but she acted like she really didn’t want to help me because she was too busy with her own workload. Except that I was super far behind. The first patient I had, I ended up getting yelled at for and seriously lectured. It was really embarrassing right in front of the patient and all. Then the doc went into the hall and was like, “SHE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO DO ANYTHING. HELP HER OUT” which no one did. My first patient gave me a pitying look and left on his way. I was like taboo from there on out and no one wanted to come near me. People really weren’t helpful and I felt talked down to the rest of the time. I can’t say that everyone was unhelpful, though, because there were 3 people who did try to make me feel a little better and were somewhat patient with me. My first patient of the day, and I felt very close to tears.

I got yelled at. OK. That’s not a big deal. I technically should have known some of that stuff. I got careless. I deserved it. So I turned around and everything was done correctly the way the doc wanted from there on out. He actually said, “Good job” at one point. That wasn’t the real problem. It hurt and I was embarrassed, but that wasn’t what I was truly unhappy about. The unhelpfulness was one, but there were definitely other factors: cleanliness, chairside manner/personalities, the atmosphere, and the equipment.

Cross-contamination is one of the worst things. The x-ray sanitation was really disgusting to me. This actually goes hand in hand with the equipment part of the whole equation. Do they EVER wipe the xray unit??? No. I do, but at the end I noticed that when I wiped it all this black stuff got everywhere. NASTY. The XCP’s weren’t even sterilized. They were cold sterilized??? Do you know how cold sterilizing works??? It takes FOREVER. I felt so guilty using all of the stuff there! And not only that, but the doors to the xrays units were busted. Not just mine either. They all where. How cheap can you get? The area was cramped, it was dusty and dark and top it all off, there must have been mold or something in there. My allergies acted up the moment I got in there. I left with a bad sinus headache.

The atmosphere there was not good for me. I didn’t feel comfortable in there. I felt rushed. I felt trapped, I felt cramped, I felt used. Everyone was out for themselves and themselves alone. I didn’t feel teamwork. The docs wanted money. Everyone just wanted to get out of the place. I haven’t had patients ask me that many questions before…mostly it’s the opposite. People would rather ask the doc than me. However, I’d find that they’d much rather ask me questions…that they trusted me more than they did the docs…questions that I wouldn’t and didn’t know the answers to. I had to make up some answers hoping it alleviated their frustration at being unable to communicate properly with the doctors. They’re so condescending!! I seriously got that they would rather make money, by offering all these treatment plans that may or may not solve the patient’s problem. It frustrated me that the patients’ concerns were not being addressed properly. When they turn to me, what am I supposed to do? Tell them the doc is a jerk and that he’s wrong? I can’t do that!

I was so behind but I still finished by 2 pm. When I finally finished there was NO ONE THERE. Everyone was long gone. Only one front desk girl was there and I had barely finished wiping when she was pretty much shoving me out the door. I commented, “Man everyone jets around here, huh?” and she was like, “pshhh yeah it’s saturday!” I was kind of appalled. It’s true that it’s Saturday and people want to have fun, but does that come at the expense of the patients?? I did not feel very welcomed.

Overall I think the situation wasn’t as bad as what it felt like. First days are always the roughest because you’re trying to get into the groove of things while trying to remain timely and quality-y (haha). However, I felt had. Not only were people not helpful, I hated the philosophies, the equipment sucked, and I was slow, but I just HAPPENED to get the hardest patients possible. I got so many patients that we haven’t seen in years which meant they needed everything updated. Sooo…I was way behind from waiting for the doc to get off the phone about his later plans only to get yelled at later and lectured, but it didn’t help that I had all these high maintenance patients. And yet I still finished by 2, only to get shoved out the door for being too slow.

The cherry on top of this all? The wrap I made for myself that morning tasted  moldy. FIGURES. Yeah. I wanted nothing more than a good cry when it was all over.

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