Soothing the panic

Your state is one of the many in the country that allows hygienists to administer local anesthesia. The dentist you work with is encouraging you to take your state's certification course and has even offered to pay the whole cost. But you're terrified and panic at the thought of giving and receiving the required injections. You've practiced clinical hygiene for years and are confident in your skills, but the thought of participating in the course fills you with dread. What should you do?

BY ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

Your state is one of the many in the country that allows hygienists to administer local anesthesia. The dentist you work with is encouraging you to take your state's certification course and has even offered to pay the whole cost. But you're terrified and panic at the thought of giving and receiving the required injections. You've practiced clinical hygiene for years and are confident in your skills, but the thought of participating in the course fills you with dread. What should you do?

Kate Soal, RDH, MEd, has created a local anesthesia program that supports you through the process. Working closely with Marilyn Kalil, RDH, MS, her mentor and colleague, the two developed a local anesthesia course that allows hygienists to feel comfortable in their skills and knowledge. By holding the shaking hand, soothing the panic with encouragement and understanding, and directly addressing the human component, Kate and Marilyn achieve a sense of accomplishment and confidence.

Kate's course includes:

• The basic science of local anesthesia

• Anatomy of the head, neck, and oral cavity, including osseous and neuroanatomy

• Selection and preparation of armamentaria

• Pharmacology of local anesthesia and vasoconstrictors

• Medical and legal management of complications

• Prevention and management of medical emergencies

• Infection control techniques

By participating in the local anesthesia course, hygienists will leave with a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and awareness that they have not only done something to enhance their career, they've also raised their level of patient care. When the dentist doesn't have to administer the local, schedules run smoother and the hygienist is able to care for patients by providing the necessary pain control and hemostasis. This is a win-win for all.

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Kate began teaching the program by accident while she was an adjunct faculty member at Quinsigamond Community College. Marilyn had developed the program, and shortly before it was to be given, Kate asked her if she needed help. Thinking Marilyn would use her to set up or break down, Kate was surprised when Marilyn handed her a file and asked her to teach it. Without looking at it, Kate said yes, but when she did look, she was surprised to see it was neuroanatomy and neurophysiology! She had two weeks to pull it together, and when she and Marilyn think back on it now, they wonder how they did it. The course itself has a precourse section presented via PowerPoint, open discussion, demonstration, and as much hands-on as possible. Kate moves around a lot and enjoys the one-on-one instruction time.

Kate also presents a program called "Infectious Diseases and the Risks We Take as Professionals" that she developed after an annual physical and PPD revealed that she had contracted tuberculosis during the previous year. Her only risk factor was practicing clinical hygiene. She realized that had it not been for the annual PPD requirement she needed in order to teach, she probably would have gone undiagnosed and potentially become very sick.

This month's INeedCE course is, "It's Time to Discuss Sex, HPV, and Its Impact to Dentistry." Use code ANAN15 for 50% off. Regular price is $59.00, $29.50 after discount. This is valid through Feb. 28, 2015.

It's Time to Discuss Sex, HPV, and Its Impact to Dentistry

The new millennium has brought about great advances in technology and innovation, including the discovery of the link between human papillomavirus (HPV) and head and neck cancer. Thirty-five years ago, it was postulated that human papillomavirus could cause cervical cancer. Today, it is well established that this heterogeneous virus causes cervical, anogenital, penile, and oral cancer.

HPV is now considered a human carcinogen. Unlike other cancers of the mouth, HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers are more likely to occur among young patients, white men, those without the traditional risk factors of tobacco and alcohol, and those with certain sexual histories. HPV public awareness has started to grow and has been featured more frequently in the media. As public knowledge continues to grow, so will the knowledge base of dental health-care providers who treat them.

Her goal for the "Infectious" program is to raise awareness of the risks we all face while working on patients, from the infectious diseases they may harbor to the importance of annual physicals and testing. This course is a very personal mission for Kate since she has always taken every precaution. This experience made her realize that dental masks don't protect clinicians from TB. Kate did not tolerate the TB treatment well and was sick for nearly a year. This has made her more aware that dental professionals are at the mercy of what patients may be carrying, and what they're willing to tell their dental professionals.

The objectives for the "Infectious" course are:

• Evaluate personal and patient risk factors in relation to infectious diseases

• Discuss the limits of and critique the proper use of PPEs

• Discuss the importance of annual physicals, vaccination, and testing for specific infectious diseases

• Discuss the prevalence and incidence of infectious diseases and available resources

Kate received her formal education in England as a registered dental surgery assistant. She was employed as an assistant after emigrating to the U.S. in 1987. She is a graduate of Quinsigamond Community College's dental hygiene program and received a Bachelor of Natural Science from Worcester State University. She recently completed the Master of Dental Hygiene from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University. Although enjoying clinical practice, Kate has recently "retired" from clinical after 15 years as an assistant and 14 years in periodontal practice to focus solely on her teaching career.

Among her big loves are her two daughters, Victoria and Mariana, who were youngsters when she started in the dental hygiene program. They are her inspiration, keeping her grounded and real as she has progressed through her hygiene career. Her husband, Red, is very supportive and never complains about the workload of a faculty member, or how busy she was when she studied for her master's program.

Kate describes herself as calm, pragmatic, and a cautious optimist, all of which her daughters would define as "British." She is a member of ADHA, and her biggest concern is navigating the next few years while dental hygiene finally moves on toward becoming more of a true profession after a century of oppression. She thanks her mentor, Marilyn, for having faith and trust in her when she herself did not. Kate feels that dental hygiene has given her more than she could have imagined, and she hopes to have the opportunity to give back (she is currently secretary for the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists' Association). She says she works with a fantastic group of supportive and dedicated educators who are the best role models she could ask for.

One of her best experiences was to teach local anesthesia to a hygienist who had been in practice longer than Kate had been alive. She uses her as an example when hygienists say they can't take the course because they have been out of school too long. In her experience, it doesn't matter how long someone has been out of school; rather, it is the person's desire to overcome obstacles. By moving through the obstacles, anything is possible in one's career path.

For more information on Kate and her programs, contact ksoal@qcc.mass.edu.

Thought for the month:
"Nothing stops the person who desires to achieve. Every obstacle is simply a course to develop one's achievement muscle. It is the strengthening of one's powers of accomplishment."
-Thomas Carlyle RDH


ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at amrdh@aol.com.

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