RDH is building on the success of the RCC program by concentrating on all community connections—not limiting the focus to social media. You, the readers, let us know we needed to broaden the vision, so we listened and changed. The RCC program will now embrace all the communities where an RDH may build a professional connection. Whether this is in a study club, a public health program, locally, or your personal network, dental hygienists are champions at building communities.
Jennifer Stanley, RDH, a new RCC member, recently spent some time reflecting on her personal dental hygienist community.
How would you define your professional community?
Like-minded forward thinkers who inspire one another to grow. They are passionate professionals who motivate, advise, and lift each other up. They challenge each other to break barriers mentally, physically, emotionally, and professionally. They support each other’s dreams even if they don’t fit in the stereotypical dental box. They are trailblazers, but they’re also human. You can layer filters on the photo, makeup on the face, a custom suit on the body, and a luxury car to travel in, but none of that will disguise who you really are. Being authentic and vulnerable within the community allows you to step out of your perceived persona to honor your true self—the inner child with doubts and insecurities.
How has community connection influenced your career?
Acceptance. They have served as a lifeline. They let me know I am not alone. I can be vulnerable and admit that I don’t have it together. All I must do is reach out. I can also be a lifeline for others too. We complement each other. We all have something to bring to the table. It may be as simple as an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. It could be as big as a recommendation that changes the trajectory of your career.
How do you recommend finding community connections?
Invest in yourself by attending at least one in-person conference a year. Online connections are a great way to stay connected, but there’s nothing like being face-to-face with like-minded individuals. The energy is palpable. The camaraderie is welcoming. That’s where I feel the most connected—surrounding myself with this community.
I was bitten by the conference bug in 2016 when I was questioning my choice to be an RDH. I was burnt out and frustrated. The best thing I ever did was invest in myself. I started with in-person conferences, then found mentors and hired a coach. My favorite event is RDH UOR. I can’t believe I practiced for 11 years before I attended. It changed the course of my career and life.
Do you have more than one community, and what are the benefits?
I have communities within communities, groups within groups. We may all start out in the dental industry, but we are so much more than that. In the groups of clinical professionals, some are traditional, some are holistic, some are in management or speaking or education; others are entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs; some are spiritual or empathetic or stern and unafraid to dish out tough love. Investing in yourself is never a waste. Put your money where your mouth is, and your ROI will far outweigh the cost of tuition and travel. A shift in mindset, a new friend, a cool new gadget to make your life easier, or a free instrument in your goody bag will change you.
Patterson Dental has been the proud sponsor of the RCC program since 2020. In 2024 they will continue to recognize dental hygienists and the communities where they make a difference. Be sure to attend the Patterson Welcome Reception honoring the RCC members at RDH Under One Roof in Denver, Colorado.
Welcome to the 2024 RDH Community Connection Members
- Fleur Bruna, RDH
- Joffree Bunleang, BSDH, RDH
- Yanira Casasola, MPH, BSDH, RDHAP
- Vilma Cordero, MHSc, RDH
- Jeannette Diaz, MPH, MS, RDH, RDHAP, FADHA
- Amanda Hale, BS, RDH
- Kevin Ohashi Lopez, MHA, BSDH, RDH
- Caitlin Parsons, RDH, C-IAYT, CEAS, RYT500
- Maryam Shamuel, RDH
- Jennifer Stanley, RDH
- Annie Walters, MSDH, RDH
Editor's note: This article appeared in the January-February 2024 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.