There are national, state, and local agencies that already have an oral health infrastructure containing positions that may be of interest to the dental hygienist. Nationally, the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) offers positions to individuals who are interested in uniformed service. This entity is a branch of military service that carries out the health agenda for our nation. One would enter the corps with a baccalaureate degree and be awarded military rank. The job opportunities for dental hygienists fluctuate in the USPHS; patience and a familiarity with the process is critical in securing a position. To learn more about this opportunity proceed to http://www.usphs.gov/.15 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service and the National Institutes for Health also offer interesting positions for the dental hygienist. These jobs often require re-location to a specific region but provide an opportunity to engage in research or clinical care in nationally known programs. For more information on jobs of these types, access: www.USAJobs.gov.16
Each state has a health department, and these agencies manage the oral health agenda for the state. Dental hygienists often hold staff positions in state oral health departments. Each state is different; so if this is an area that interests you, it would be beneficial to find out more about your state’s oral health department or program. A simple internet search will provide you with this information. It is suggested you start by accessing your state’s health department and then searching for the oral health program within that agency; also, watch the job opportunities section of the state’s health department. Think outside the box. Dental hygienists do not have to be pigeonholed into dental related positions only. Remember, you are not only a dental clinician, but also a health educator; you have the skills to motivate people toward healthier lifestyles. You also have the skills to manage information and organize programs; this may open up some new avenues for you.
Sometimes cities and counties also have health departments. Often these agencies have access to funds allocated for programs in oral health, but find it hard to use the funds due to lack of available personnel. Locate your county’s health department (and city health department, if applicable) and introduce yourself to the administrators; let them know you are interested in carrying out programs for oral health. There may not be an immediate position available, but you may be remembered when an opportunity arises.