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Editor's Note

By Mark Hartley

I was walking down the streets of RDH eVillage the other day and just tossed out a general question about that thing you do between eight and five.

One hygienist paused and kicked at a weed sprouting up in the sidewalk. "I enjoy learning anything new that will help me better serve my patients. I work with seven other hygienists, and we are continually bouncing ideas and products off each other.

"We recently went to our local convention. Took a course on medically comprised patients with heart defects. Also, [we listened to] a motivational speaker, a dentist, who would be a dream to work for."

I was happy we paused to say hello. I looked around that street in RDH eVillage and wondered which building was the daytime home to these eight synergistic hygienists. I was thinking about scheduling an appointment, even though I'm not medically compromised. Knock on wood, or at least a picket fence in RDH eVillage.

Then she said, "The course confirmed we have a dysfunctional office. Very sad. [I am] Presently looking for a new career."

Whoa. Rein it in there. Don't leave town. That same RDH eVillage survey confirmed that 85% of the inhabitants feel like their decision to work in dental hygiene was a good one, and 10% were uncertain about whether to say yes or no. That means 5% of the characters on the streets of RDH eVillage regret being here.

OK, that's easy to comprehend. But if you're "enjoying" how to "better serve my patients" and "continually bouncing ideas" off other hygienists, let's talk about a Plan B. Hey, we'll just ask the dentist to leave the streets of RDH eVillage. Nah, can't do that. The sheriff would just get angry.

"It would be unsafe, son," the sheriff would glower at me, "if the streets of RDH eVillage didn't have any dentists to protect residents like you from potential harm. You're not going to cause me any problems, are you? I know how to handle troublemakers. I would just point you toward the highway, and make sure you didn't get lost."

Nah, I don't want to have that conversation again with the law. I happen to believe that the streets of RDH eVillage are perfectly safe with all of these hygienists around town. But if you bring up anything about making the streets of RDH eVillage a better place to live, the first thing that comes up is how unsafe it would be.

From where I stood, I could see the playground of RDH eVillage's school. So I wandered over to see if Ashley is sitting in the shade, waiting for classes to be dismissed. She's the crossing guard who helps students make it to the other side where the jobs are. It had been on my mind to ask her how aware the students were about the difficulty in finding jobs after graduation.

So I asked. Ashley casually waved the stop sign she carries, beckoning me to sit down.

"Times are different now," she said. "I still have classmates that are working only part-time or split their time between a couple of offices just to make up for full-time hours. We recently hired a new hygienist in our office who has a lot of work experience. She explained that finding a job was not easy, even with her 17-plus years of experience."

I nodded at the school and, tongue-in-cheek, asked if there were too many schools in RDH eVillage.

"Tons," she replied, popping her xylitol bublegum.

She continued, "Our graduating class was excited during our last year of school in hopes of finding a job, making good money, and doing what we loved. However, I can see how students in their last year of education are more nervous about graduating and entering the field."

It was sort of what I expected to hear from Ashley. So I gazed down the street, and -- not for the first time -- thought that what the streets of RDH eVillage need is an urban planner. Get a bright fellow in here who will make RDH eVillage a happy place for everyone, coming up with some impressive blueprints for changing dysfunctional offices would be step one. But don't tell the sheriff I said that.

Mark Hartley
markh@pennwell.com
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