By Mark Hartley
I apologize to previous RDH cover models. They are all outstanding representatives of the dental hygiene profession. Some of them are even award recipients (Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction and Philips/RDH Mentor of the Year). I only sporadically refer to cover models in this space.
Tonya Lanthier's working vacation on Sir Richard Branson's island in the Caribbean occurred long after the cover photography for this issue was completed. She flashed her best smile for RDH long before the 2014 Hinman Dental Meeting in Atlanta. The founder of DentalPost.net has been providing some interesting commentary recently while we prepared this month's issue.
DentalPost.net is an online employment service. The headquarters are in Atlanta where Lanthier started her dental hygiene career in 1995. Her entrepreneurial itch fueled the creation of her company, based in part on a personal observation that finding employment in dental hygiene is often a full-time endeavor too.
Although the website matches up employers and employees, Lanthier does blog about a variety of topics. As this RDH issue approached its final deadlines, Lanthier was blogging about her "knight" of entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson.
She wrote that she came home after her hometown convention with a "Hinman high." "Don't mess up your chance for workplace happiness," she said. "No, seriously. You can be very happy at work." The DentalPost.net staff interaction with Hinman attendees included conversations with job seekers who are both "hopeful" and "downright frustrated."
RDH eVillage conducted a profile survey of dental hygienists in March and April (see page 24). One question asked hygienists if they felt their career choice was a "good one." Only 5% said the career was not a choice for them.
In a section for comments, one respondent said, "I work in a nice environment. I am respected, and the job has great hours. I am contributing to my community."
This was a very typical comment, mirroring what Lanthier tries to do in matching people based on work culture.
Her week on Branson's Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands tossed her into the mix of a variety of entrepreneurs. The "inspiration vacation" led to some walks on a "white sandy beach."
"I have noticed that when I do overthink an issue, it is harder to come up with a solid solution," Lanthier wrote. "So a getaway could be the solution. It is a good idea, too, to encourage your staff to leave work behind to recharge and come back with new energy and enthusiasm!"
We have certainly observed over the years how dental teams are inspired by attending a convention such as the Hinman or the American Dental Association's annual session. But it can be a much simpler process, such as a picnic in a park not visible from the dental office. Get away from the building!
In one of her blogs, Lanthier wrote about eating dinner with other entrepreneurs at a tennis pavilion on Necker Island. Not all of it was about increasing wealth.
She wrote, "You could look at the grandeur and beauty around us and think Sir Richard's legacy would be his wealth ... He emphasizes that we must create something bigger than we are, and we should always give back, even if it is in small ways. Sometimes, the small ways can be most meaningful. It is all about making a real difference. But what makes us truly happy is purpose."
She said that Branson advises entrepreneurs to "delegate often and get out of the way. We should empower our teams and make them feel safe expressing their ideas. Their skills and ways of thinking could expand our business or dental practice!"
Ideas such as these are often discussed at the RDH Under One Roof conference too. The dental hygiene conference is famous for bringing hygienists together from all over the country and Canada to find inspiration via networking and continuing education. Dental hygiene should be the percent blend of giving back to the community as a caregiver while, at the same time, finding financial fulfillment in the career choice of dental hygiene.
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