Often dentists and dental hygienists choose to enter private practice, but there are plenty other career pathways available to today’s oral health professional. Many of our alumni have pursued nontraditional options each finding success in doing so. We share with you several of their stories, as they prove you most can certainly go your own way…
Pursuing orthodontics had always been the plan for Frank Lafata, R.D.H., B.S. ’13. He started by earning a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene to lay a foundation for future studies.
As an undergraduate, Lafata was in a serious car accident resulting in injury to his back. He worked through the pain to continue his studies.
Upon graduation, he juggled several jobs in private practice but realized early on that a career as an orthodontist or hygienist would be too difficult physically for him. He knew he would have to make a career change, but wanted to stay within the profession.
Lafata was encouraged after looking into dental supply sales. In 2015, he took the leap and has not looked back.
“At first it was tough establishing a network and rapport with the offices I walked into,” Lafata said. But soon he realized his advantage: He can relate to clinicians in a way many of his colleagues cannot.
“I am a provider, myself. I can explain how products work and the benefits of them,” he said. “They trust me because I’ve been in their shoes and understand their needs.”
A benefit for Lafata is that the job lets him interact with people and educate them, two of the aspects of being a dental hygienist he liked best.
Most of all though, working in sales has given Lafata a new sense of drive.
“I can grow in my position,” he said. “I can set new goals and work toward them.”
Sales has proved to be the right route for Lafata and he enjoys maintaining technique and expertise as a dental hygienist in private practice on Saturdays.