By Lory Laughter, RDH, BS
The Internet has become many things for many people. It is a place of endless entertainment with videos, photos, and stories galore, a place to catch up with family and friends, an endless supply of news, and even a place where one can spend hours on end without any real focus. I still run into people who are fearful of the web and those who can't make it through a 60-minute dental appointment without accessing their email or cloud-based calendar reminders.
The exchange of information has become almost spontaneous, with smartphones and tablets making it easier to take the Internet everywhere we go. Some say we can't escape it; others realize they can't function without it. One can use the instant access to look up health symptoms or even how to treat a victim having a heart attack -- and just as easily look up unfamiliar items on a menu. Encyclopedias, which take up a lot of space, have been replaced with a pocket-sized digital device.
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But with all our surfing and web engine searching, the most obvious method for sharing information is often overlooked: email. Between all the fun letters, family updates, business contacts, and loads of spam in your inbox, there are offerings to expand your mind and deliver practice-enhancing research.
The following are five newsletters or email links I found interesting:
- Sunstar America puts out a monthly e-Brief1 with topics geared to the dental professional, but it is also appropriate to print and share with patients. The information is presented in a concise format and takes less than five minutes to read. Topics in 2013 ranged from dental access for underserved children to implementing evidence-based science into your practice. For those of us who don't always have the five minutes right away or who want to access the e-Brief at a later date, there is an online archive.
- RDH eVillage2 arrives every two weeks and is one newsletter I open immediately. Kristine Hodsdon, RDH, MSEC, delivers articles easily accessed right from your inbox. I can read each topic in the newsletter, click to read full articles without closing my email, and even share those I find most interesting on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. This newsletter focuses on the practice of dental hygiene and is the go-to source for salary, benefits, and career planning information. RDH eVillage also has an online archive for future reference of articles you want to read again.
- If webinars are more your learning style, VivaLearning.com sends emails offering free web-based continuing education.3 Updated offerings are delivered by email about twice a month and feature some of the best speakers in dentistry. The courses are sponsored and are also ADA CERP approved for CE credit. While I hesitate to pick favorites, time is well spent viewing the 12/3/13 course given by Michelle Hurlbutt, RDH, MSDH, which is titled "Risk Assessment: Best Practices in Oral Health Management." You can attend the webinars live or access them from the website for viewing on your own time.
- Colgate also delivers a newsletter via email and includes a link to the Colgate Oral Health Network.4 Here you can register for access to free online courses, articles, and events. At first glance, the articles tab does not appear to have dental hygiene-specific topics, but further investigation of the general dentistry section reveals the majority of the articles are written by authors with RDH after their names. The online courses can be viewed live when scheduled and are also archived for on-demand viewing at your convenience. From this site you can also access an entire free textbook on periodontics and receive CE credits for reading the chapters and taking a quiz. The text is 18 chapters and involves three dozen internationally known authors and editors.
- My email participation in dental hygiene probably began with AmyRDH Listers.5 More than 13 years later, I still read daily emails from the listers and look forward to following threads on topics that interest me most. The exchanges are not always science-based, but provideinsight into our profession unavailable in any other format. In the last week alone the subject matter has ranged from sinus lifts to medical credit cards to gluten sensitivities. Discussions can get lively with passions clearly shining through. (Check out Dental IQ under Dental Hygiene Events.) Emails are archived on Yahoo and you can access the list in more than one format at www.amyrdh.com.
Email inboxes can become collection devices for spam and unwanted offers from foreign contacts looking to share bank accounts. The sheer volume can become overwhelming and deleting can fill a good portion of your online session, but by subscribing to the right newsletters and bookmarking archives of interest, you can greatly enhance your email reading experience. It is possible to utilize your inbox to create better web weaving.
Web links mentioned in this article
LORY LAUGHTER, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.