By Mark Hartley
Only two months separate the celebrations of the two main awards that RDH participates in every year. The Philips Sonicare/RDH Mentor of the Year award is presented during a reception hosted at the American Dental Hygienists' Association's annual session. A few weeks later, the eight recipients of the Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction are the guests of honor at the RDH Under One Roof conference.
In the weeks before and after the ceremonies, there's a whole lot of preparation going on. The staffs at Sunstar Americas, Philips Oral Healthcare, and PennWell collaborate on every aspect of staging an awards process. Many hygienists know Gail Stoops at Philips and Jackie Sanders at Sunstar, both of whom are supported by colleagues in their respective companies. On our end, nothing would get done if Craig Dickson, Heather Hodges, Chris Page, Machele Galloway, Kristine Hodsdon, Darlene Starks, and others were not involved.
The April 2014 issue featured the Mentor of the Year, Susanne Kuehl (see photo above). In the upcoming September issue, the Sunstar recipients will be profiled. In fact, while this issue is being printed and mailed, we will be in Chicago for “UOR,” applauding the Award of Distinction recipients.
What does this all mean to me? I'm glad you asked. I'm just an easygoing editor who sits at a keyboard, reading the words that hygienists write, for the most part. I chat with dental hygienists at the half-dozen or so conferences that I attend every year. Most of these hygienists are as crazy as I am, struggling with writer's block, misplaced dictionaries, and misinterpretations of what is written. In other words, many of them are authors.
So it's good to have the head cleared by meeting someone who does make a genuine difference in our world. First off, most of the award recipients put pants on the same way we do. I should say all of them do, but, uh, I wouldn't know for certain. So there's no sainthood associated with the awards. However, when you meet them, you realize the commitment that they have toward what inspires them is as tough as steel. You can't dent it.
I've already written about Susanne in this space (April issue). There's no wavering with her about dental hygienists' role in our society. Dental hygienists are the solution for access to care issues.
The same spirit should be obvious when you read the profiles of the Sunstar recipients next month. Here are their solutions:
- A mobile practice for homebound patients with special needs
- An outreach charity event for homeless veterans and their families
- Training long-term caregivers about oral care for patients with geriatric dementia
- Writing policies for dental care of patients with HIV in a medical care facility
- Setting up oral care resources for oncology patients
- Staging community walks to create awareness of oral cancer
These awards slap you into the full awareness that some magnificent transitions are occurring within the dental hygiene profession — all the time.
We begin working on the 2015 awards next month. Don't forget to nominate your mentor as the 2015 Mentor of the Year.
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