Biteline is only as strong as the insight, experience, and energy of the dental pros who are part of our community. We are constantly amazed and inspired by the wisdom of our RDHs, DAs, office managers, and dentists.
Charleston-based RDH Kimberly Gallagher is one of those RDHs. Meet Kimberly in this Q&A.
Biteline Team (BT): How did you get started in dentistry? What's kept you in it and excited the industry over the years?
Kimberly Gallagher (KG): I always had an interest in healthcare, and I thought I’d pursue nursing because my mom was a nurse. Growing up, I would volunteer as a candy stripper at my mom’s work during the summer. In high school, I even received my nursing assistant certification. However, I didn’t enjoy it. So, after I graduated high school, I was in a really bad car accident. During physical therapy, I thought this would be a great and fun career! So I enrolled in the program. But after meeting a physical therapist in Psychology class, he warned that state funding cuts forced closures of facilities and there were very few jobs. So, with the fear of graduating and no job prospects, I ended up changing career paths to dental. After research, it seemed like a very lucrative career that promised high salaries, strong job prospects, employment growth, benefits and flexible hours. Luckily all my credits transferred!
I’ve stayed in the industry due to my love of the profession. I absolutely love my job! I have had wonderful opportunities in different aspects such as teaching clinical skills to hygiene students at my alma mater.
Having the opportunity to work in different scopes of dentistry has kept me excited over the years! Such as working in Perio doing IV Sedation SRP and speaking in a few continuing education conferences. Ten years ago, I also created a private Facebook group that now has over 4,000 dental professionals. I really enjoy administering this group - it keeps my finger on the pulse of current events in the dental profession.
BT: Describe your career in one sentence.
KG: To work together with a licensed dentist to meet the oral health needs of many different patients each day by using a variety of interpersonal and clinical skills, and dental health education.
It’s super important that you agree with the same philosophies and goals with the doctor you work with or the relationship will not work.
BT: Best part of your day?
KG: Believe it or not - morning huddle! And I’m not talking about the awkward poem reading encouragement ones. I love huddles where we as a team problem solve holes in the schedule, capture same day service and how to manage the schedule with emergencies. It’s a great way for me to start my day.
BT: Three favorite things about temping?
KG: Honestly, meeting the members of my Facebook group! It has been soooo fun! Next, flexibility in working hours. I can pick and choose the hours and days “I” want to work. Last but not least, less drama. When you are not a staff member, you don’t have to deal with office gossip. Also, if you have a bad experience you can choose to not return versus being employed and having to give notice or worse quitting.
BT: Best piece of advice you'd give a new RDH who is interested in learning more about temping or going full-time temp?
KG: Before you accept the job opportunity always find out the following:
- Will they accept your fee and W2
- What is their software, X-rays, recall appt lengths, etc.
- What is their payroll cycle
- What are the office hours and lunch time
BT: Best advice you received over the course of your career.
KG: Silly, but keep using your air! Seriously...remember in preclinical how the instructors showed us how to use air to detect calculus? Well the attending dentist told me to never stop doing that, and, until this day, I still do it. So check behind yourself and use that air :)
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