The many ways hygienists earn extra income

An inside peek to adding bottom-line value

Creating and sustaining a viable alternative income stream is not a new idea. What are the driving forces for hygienists who work outside of a clinical setting, and how do those forces contribute to their financial health? In July 2018, 152 dental hygienists shared their thoughts in a short anecdotal poll (figure 1). The results painted a very colorful, diverse, and intriguing picture.

Figure 1. Motivations for nonclinical positions

Motivating factors

Dental hygienists are resourceful. Those who seek additional income are creative, inspired, and unwilling to let anyone define where and how they’ll make those extra dollars. Their enjoyment of something was their number one driver as more than half of the respondents said they earn income doing work they truly enjoy. Diversity was high on the list, and many said the nonclinical work feeds their creativity or provides an intellectual challenge.

Surprisingly, money was not the primary driver, but it was an important aspect for one-third of the respondents. Fourteen percent said they are building a nest egg, and just under 5% reported working in a nondental family business.

The poll revealed some surprising paths to pad RDHs’ bottom lines. Some split their time between a previous occupation and clinical practice, while others made a complete career shift. Sadly, a number said their job changes were spurred on by the physical toll of dental hygiene practice through the years.