Why It’s Never Too Late to Make a Career Change

Rebeca Rosario is proof that it’s never too late to make a career change. After spending almost two decades working as a paralegal, she decided to pivot back to an industry she had always been interested in: dentistry.

“As a junior in high school, I became a certified dental assistant and my goal was to become a hygienist,” she says. “However, there was a two-year wait to enter the program so I switched majors and graduated from paralegal studies instead.”

But after many years in the legal field, Rosario had enough. “I felt the need to find a new career where the focus was to help others,” she says. “The dental field gives you instant gratification when you are helping another person in their dental health journey.”

In 2017, she became a registered dental hygienist (RDH) and soon after joined the team at Tend, a dental service startup. “I love that we are trying to be innovative with the sole purpose of providing elevated care for our members,” says Rosario, the company’s Clinical Training Manager.

Here, she shares what a typical day at work is like, why Tend is a great place for those just starting out in their dental careers, and the secret to her success.

What led to your job at Tend?

I took a leap of faith. Tend did not exist when I joined. I started at a pilot practice and learned about this amazing concept—which included beautiful studios and paying a base salary and bonuses versus procedure-based commission—and decided I wanted to be a part of it. My plan was to become a professor of dental hygiene at a major university, but I saw the opportunity to stick by this concept. I was the second hygienist hired, and we now have more than 100.

What are you responsible for as the Clinical Training Manager?

My goal is to ensure that we provide proper training and onboarding so that our new hires feel ready to see members. With all the technology and advanced tools we use, it can be very intimidating. I like to be a resource for all new hires so they feel supported.

I partner with the Training and Development Manager to coordinate new studio onboardings and review the material we will cover for training. I provide hands-on training for all new studio openings as well as all new hires. I spearheaded the program for new graduates, developing the curriculum and clinical agenda. I partner with studio managers and help reinforce training for existing employees. Finally, I partner with Tend’s regional directors of operations and guide them through clinical issues and concerns for all markets.

What is a typical day at your job like?

Day to day, my role is to manage schedules to ensure we have coverage in the studios. In the event we are short staffed, I problem solve to secure a team for any location in need. Every week I coordinate clinical on the job training sessions for new hires. Communication is sent to all new grads or new hires about their upcoming schedules. I do weekly check-ins with the new hires and grads as well as the lead hygienists that are helping with training.

What has been the secret to your success at Tend?

I heavily give credit to my experience working at a large law firm and managing lawyers—they are not always easy to deal with. My current role requires that I multitask, prioritize, and at times triage priorities. In the dental field there are always situations out of our control (such as a vacuum or compressor failing, staff not showing up, weather, etc.). Having the hindsight and preparing contingency plans are what have enabled me to progress from RDH to lead RDH to Clinical Training Manager.

What opportunities does Tend offer registered dental hygienists to learn and grow?

At Tend, RDHs have the opportunity to advance into lead hygiene roles. As we continue to hire new team members, RDHs have the opportunity to be a part of new-hire onboarding as well. As TendU advances, many RDHs will have the opportunity to further develop their skills through continuing education, making career advancements along the way.

How does Tend set hygienists up for success?

Our onboarding process is like no other. I have never heard of private practices onboarding their new hires like we do at Tend. Even hygienists who have recently entered the field after completing a dental hygiene program typically have to learn on their own when they are seeking employment. Tend provides ample time for new hygienists to get acclimated to all our systems.

What does success look like as a hygienist at Tend?

Success is measured by returning members. If a hygienist successfully builds rapport with a member and the member returns for continuous care, a hygienist has successfully done their job. Seeing the reversal of gingivitis or the arrest of periodontal disease is what our goal as a clinician should be.

What advice would you give a hygienist considering a career at Tend?

Be open-minded and flexible. The exciting thing about Tend is that we try new things and are innovative. We are always working to improve the experience for our members, and it’s fun to explore new ways of thinking and gain knowledge of new dental technology in the process.

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