Hi, Bethany, how are you?
I’m good. How are you Esmy?
I’m doing wonderful. Thank you so much for letting me chat with you about your career today. I really appreciate it.
Yeah. Thanks for having me.
So first question I’m gonna start with is just a basic question. Tell us a little bit about your career, where you started and where you are now.
Okay, so I graduated from dental hygiene school in 2012. And I went to school in Colorado and southern Colorado. And almost immediately after I graduated, my husband and I moved down to Texas. And so it’s pretty much the only place that I’ve practiced, and I would say, had a pretty, like a normal experience as a hygienist up until maybe like 2020. I just started to feel like that burnout that a lot of us do at a certain point during our clinical practice, and, and I went through kind of a painful firing with an employer. And just some things happened for me with my career to where I started to question if this is what I really wanted. And so long story short, I started just kind of researching what my options were, and decided that I wanted to try to get published. And so I started writing for Rdh. Magazine. And, surprisingly, all of my pieces were perceived pretty well. And I started writing more regularly. And the more that I was doing that I started getting presented with other opportunities outside of clinical hygiene. So fast forward to today, I work clinically three days a week in a Dental Sleep Medicine practice. And then the other couple of days a week, I work as a key opinion leader within the industry, I do some writing and speaking and I also do some coaching with hygienists as well, especially ones that are wanting to pursue a future with writing. And I also work as an editorial advisor for dentistry IQ for their daily newsletter. So it’s been kind of a wild ride, like, especially just these past few years, but it’s been awesome. And I’m just super grateful for the experience.
Over at RDH Connect, we’re constantly saying that to hygienists getting published, it’s one of the best ways to get your name out there, and to really explore what interests you. So would you agree with that, that that’s a good way for hygienist to start getting their foot in the door? Doing something else outside the office?
Absolutely. In fact, for me, writing totally transformed my career. And like, I wouldn’t be doing any of the things that I’m doing. Now, if I hadn’t, at least tried it. I didn’t know if I was going to be any good at it to be honest. But I just gave it a shot and took a chance and it just turned out that I was okay at it. And so the more that I started writing, I started getting asked to write articles on product reviews. And the more that I started doing that, companies started reaching out to me asking if I would be interested in trying their products and speaking for them and writing on kind of a broader scale and, and it just really continued to open doors for me to where I do a lot of speaking now. And I do a lot of just work outside of clinical hygiene that all started with writing.
For people that are nervous about speaking or writing, would you say it’s something that you’ve grown more confident in, the more you’ve done it?
Yes, yeah, definitely. Yeah, I was super scared about writing my first article. So not surprisingly, the first article I ever wrote about was my experience getting fired. And I’m glad that I kind of started off vulnerable like that, because it set the tone to where I feel like I couldn’t really write about anything because I just put myself out there. But I remember, like the very first time that I had submitted that article, I was told by the magazine to consider writing research based articles because that’s what readers are really wanting to see. And that really intimidated me because it had been several years since I had been in school. I didn’t know if I had what it took to write a good research Bass piece, but I just went for it. I tried to ignore that inner voice that was telling me, you know, what if what if you’re not good? What if people don’t like it? And once I got that one done, I just started writing more and more and the same with speaking. I questioned a lot, if I would be a good speaker, I worried about my voice and my speaking speed, like, really, really over analyzing myself as a person. And but I just, I put myself out there, and I just wanted to experience it and find out for sure if it was something that I could do, and, and it’s, it’s been good. Like, I’ve grown a lot, and I get better all the time at all the things that I’m doing. I’m not a master by any means. But yeah, I’ve just enjoyed the journey. It’s been, it’s been awesome.
Awesome. So I wanted to also ask you, you know, you’ve been accomplishing so many things, things, that it’s just, it’s really, as someone who’s kind of known you when you were in the stages of, I think I’m gonna maybe consider doing XYZ and then it’s like, a couple years later, and you’re doing all these things. Of all the things that you’ve done, what are you the most proud of? Or is there something coming up that you’re especially proud of and excited about?
Um, I think that for me speaking is like one of the things that I’m really proud of, because I really doubted myself in that area. And I really questioned if I would be received well by my peers. And I think I think it is just, I put my heart into everything that I do. And I just hope that people will see that when they see me speak or when they see my writing. But yeah, it’s allowed me to develop myself personally and professionally. It’s allowed me to get out of maybe some limiting thoughts and limiting beliefs that I had about what I could do or what I’m capable of. And, now I’ve gotten to the point where people are asking for me, and I’m able to speak about topics that I’m really passionate about. Now,
Bethany, you’ve spoken pretty openly and honestly in your first piece that you had published about getting fired. But now all this time later, all the other things that you’ve done, what’s been a compliment that has meant the most to you about your work.
Honestly, I think the biggest compliment that I’ve ever received with my work is the fact that people can see that I’m being the person that I’m authentically made to be like, anytime that and people sometimes will tell me that too about my work that I do on social media. But I just love when people are able to tell me that they can see that part of me shine through in my work, because it’s always been very important to me that I’m just genuinely me at all times. And, and I know that’s kind of part of our human nature is we want to please others. And we want to be likable. And I want all those things too, but in my adult years, I’ve really put a lot of effort into finding the balance between maybe being the person that others want me to be, and being true to who I really am like deep down to my core. So it just means a lot to me when I want to put myself out there in an open and honest way. And people embrace that. And they can see that, that just makes all the work that I do worth doing.
It’s also pretty rare to find really genuine people who are open about testing that they face or you know, for people to be vulnerable, especially about something like you wrote about getting fired. That’s huge. I’ve also read articles about people that have failed their clinical exams, for example, and those couldn’t have been easy things to write about. But it’s such a healing balm to all the people that have experienced that, you know, the same thing. They see people doing all these incredible things and, and they’re like, Wow, and that person failed, or they got fired or XYZ. So it’s incredible that you share your story so openly and honestly.
Yeah, thanks. So if it really worked hard to see the mistakes that I make as lessons and not necessary, as you know as failures. So I think that when we change the way that we see those mistakes, it puts everything under perspective. And so my goal and like everything that I do is to make sure that people see that maybe I do know some things and I have strengths, and I have talents. But I’m also still a flawed person who makes mistakes sometimes, and, and I have lessons to learn myself. So we get to teach each other that way. And that’s the beauty of being a human.
Now, this question may seem a little odd, but I’ll ask you anyway, how, you know, you’re someone who has grown in business, and you do all these incredible things. And I know, for so many hygienists, who are now entrepreneurs, social media is a big part of how they’re able to get their name out there. And, you know, there are all the benefits about social media workwise, but also there can be the dark side of it, especially when people are not as open and honest about their experiences, it can be very easy to feel inadequate, because you’re thinking I’m not that accomplished, I’m not that confident, so on and so forth. So what has your relationship been? Like with social media? And how do you navigate it?
Yeah, it’s, it’s a bit of love and hate, I would say, like, social media is a really great tool for us to be able to connect with other people and to get information and, and to share, you know, share our life experiences, and are professional experiences too. But, um, on the flip side to that, it can be pretty consuming. And if you let it, it can also really alter your sense of reality. And, and so I feel like we all have this personal responsibility to treat our time on social media wisely. And that whether you’re a consumer, or or you’re a creator of some sort, I think that we have to be really careful on the information that we choose to give and receive. And so for me, I’ve worked really hard to, again, you know, try to find a good balance in the content that I provide as far as like, what is positive and happy and showing my wins and my successes, as well as showing some of the disappointments that I experienced as well. And then And then also, I’ve been working really hard to balance the amount of time that I spend on social media because that in a large way can affect my perception of the information that I receive, but also the tone of the stuff that I’m putting out there. So after a certain point, every single night, I turn off all my notifications. And, and I’ve really worked hard to make sure also, that when I wake up in the morning, that’s not the first thing that I’m looking at. Because, you know, when you’re waking up in the morning, we need as much positivity and stuff that inspires and energizes us as much as possible. So, just trying to find that healthy balance with all of that stuff is the key, I think, and I’m not perfect at it by any means, but I’m working on it.
You have a personal mantra, or thing or anything that just gives you strength every day.
Um, I mean, I don’t necessarily have like, a specific mantra, but my mentality, like when I, when I go throughout my day, and as I’m interacting with people is I just like that my social media account, it’s called HumanRDH I try I try my best to remember that we’re all humans just kind of all experiencing this life at the same time. And, and we all come from a different set of life experiences and references and, and it helped, you know, all those things work together to form the way that we believe in the way that we feel about things. And there’s such beauty in the differences that we all have. And I feel like now more than ever, it’s really important to be able to, to see the beauty and all that stuff. Because it’s so easy, especially with social media, it’s so easy to get caught in a certain way of thinking and a bias and, and tell yourself that this is the only way this is the right way. This is the wrong way. And it brings a lot of division to people. So I just really try to remember, you know, that we’re all just people and we all ultimately want the same things. We all want to be understood and we all want to be cared about and loved. And so I just let that guide a lot of the interactions that I have with my patients every day. And with the people that I work with, and with all the individuals that I interact with working online.
Where can people follow you? And where can people support your work?
So you can connect with me on social media, my account is called HumanRDH. I’m on Instagram, I’m on Facebook, or you can look me up on LinkedIn, Bethany Montoya, or you can follow my daily newsletter with DentistryIQ. It’s called ‘Through the Loupes’, and you can subscribe to that on the DentistryIQ website.
Awesome. Thank you so much for your time today, Bethany. And thank you for being just such a source of encouragement, motivation, and honestly inspiration for so many hygienists including myself and including all of us at RDH Connect. So thank you so much. Yeah, thank you.
Learn more about Bethany Montoya, BAS, RDH & check out her other interview ‘Why understanding the oral microbiome is the secret to prevention’.