Dental Hygienist vs. Registered Nurse
Considering a career in the medical or dental industry?
When it comes to the dentistry vs. medicine debate, it’s important to keep in mind that one isn’t better than the other. But there are several key differences between working as a dental hygienist vs. a registered nurse that might impact your career aspirations.
While each occupation involves helping patients as part of a medical team, the contrasts in areas such as education and salary might sway you to favour one role over the other. We compare these professions to help you choose the right career path for you.
Dental Hygienist vs. Registered Nurse: Pros and Cons
Dental hygienists and registered nurses play equally important roles in the health care industry. But what are the key similarities and differences between these jobs?
Dental hygienists undertake examinations for oral diseases such as gingivitis as well as cleaning and polishing patients’ teeth. A large part of a dental hygienist’s role is to educate patients in the correct methods of oral care and maintaining good oral health.
While dental hygienists usually work in private dental practices, they can also work in community health centres, childcare or aged-care centres, schools and dental hospitals.
- You generally won’t have to work nights, weekends or holidays.
- You work with one patient at a time.
- There’s minimal emotional investment with patients.
- This role could get monotonous as you’ll be repeating the same tasks in the same environment every day. But if you’re a fan of routine and you don’t like unpredictability in your workplace, this could be an appealing factor for you.
Registered nurses provide treatment to patients suffering from numerous medical conditions. Their responsibilities include administering medication, monitoring patient recovery and progress, managing medical records and educating patients and their families on post-hospital treatment.
Nurses can work in hospitals as well as military bases, airplanes, cruise ships and more.
- There are many different speciality areas available, from rehabilitation and intensive care to paediatrics and surgical nursing. The training and development opportunities are endless.
- You’ll experience a variety in your daily work – no two days will be exactly the same.
- You may have to work long hours, weekends and holidays. Your roster may also change from week to week, making it difficult to plan for things in advance.
- Nursing can take an emotional toll. You’ll not only provide care, but also emotional support for patients and their families.
Dental Hygienist vs. Registered Nurse: Qualifications
Both occupations require tertiary education and practical training. Whichever career you choose to pursue, be prepared to commit to study and training to obtain the necessary qualifications.
Registered Nurse Qualifications
To become a registered nurse in Australia, you must successfully complete a Bachelor of Nursing, available at most universities. This course can be completed full-time over three years.
After graduating, you must apply to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) to practice as an RN. This registration must be renewed every year.
Dental Hygienist Qualifications
To work as a qualified dental hygienist in Australia, you’re required to complete a qualification in Oral Health in an accredited program. This could be an Advanced Diploma of Oral Health (Dental Hygiene) or a bachelor’s degree majoring in oral health.
After graduating, you must follow the application process to register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This registration must be renewed every year.
If you’re interested in becoming a dental hygienist, check out our HLT45015 Certificate IV in Dental Assisting - Oral Health Promotion Specialisation.
Dental Hygienist vs. Registered Nurse: Salary
According to SEEK, the most common annual salary for a registered nurse in Australia is between $65K and $75K. For a dental hygienist, the most common annual salary is between $55K and $70K.
Your salary can vary based on factors such as qualifications, experience, seniority and location.