We often hear that clinical hygienists are the foundation of the profession, but the reality is clinical hygienists are the entire structure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are slightly more than 207,000 dental hygienists in the US, with around 196,000 employed in dental offices. Without clinical dental hygienists, there is no dental hygiene profession.
Dental hygiene is physically and mentally demanding. Clinicians wear many hats: contortionist, skilled specialist, counselor, coach, educator, and many others. The day-in and day-out responsibilities of these roles can often seem thankless; both on the part of patients and other staff members. It’s easy to understand why many clinicians may feel undervalued and unappreciated.
The first time I read about the new PIRA recognition program and saw that its focus was on dental hygienists working chairside three or more days a week, I was so excited. In my 26-plus years of giving continuing education courses, I interact with clinical hygienists all the time, and know there are so many unsung heroes who deserve recognition. I also knew I wanted Water Pik to be a partner in this program.
Like Endeavor Business Media and the staff at RDH magazine, Water Pik values and has tremendous gratitude for clinical dental hygienists. Whether we are engaged at a conference, CE course, or lunch and learn, we’ve seen and heard the passion, care, and commitment you have for improving the oral health and lives of your patients. You play an important, unique, and essential role in oral health care through your focus on prevention and wellness. It’s an honor and pleasure to recognize you, the strength and backbone of dental hygiene.
Nominating yourself can feel weird or intimidating, but I encourage you to push through that feeling and apply. All you need to do is tell your story. Over the years, many of you have told me “your story,” and I can assure I have been humbled and moved to hear them. That kind of sharing is powerful. You don’t know who might need to hear it at just that moment. When you lift even one person up, you help lift the entire profession. Our profession needs powerful stories. They remind us of who we are, why we are here, and who we are continuing striving to be. Stories provide documentation for what we do and the differences we make. Our stories are our treasures, and they give us reason to continue to believe in what we do and the value of our profession. PIRA is the perfect platform to share your story.
On behalf of Water Pik, Inc., we encourage you to apply and tell your story. We have shared many of them in RDH magazine and on the Waterpik professional social media pages. I look forward to reading them and recognizing and honoring our dental hygiene superheroes.