by Lory Laughter, RDH, BS
My web browsing sessions often center around a theme or topic gathered from emails or conversations with colleagues. A typed word, phrase or question into the search engine will often bring results triggering another idea to investigate. This was not the case this month as random queries came from readers and even one suggestion from a Facebook posting. So much information exists on the web -- good and not so good -- sometimes the theme gets lost in the quest.
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A fair amount of time outside my clinical hygiene life is spent attending, giving, or planning continuing education opportunities. On most every evaluation form of each event is some variation of the question, "What topics would you like to see presented in the future?" While periodontal treatment still leads the way on forms I view, topics directed at career development and change are popping up more often with each passing year. Most of us realize we cannot stay stagnant and get ahead.
One professional development site offers both information and continuing education credit on the career of dental hygiene.1 There are five sections to view and a test for credit one can complete at the end. The lecture given by Debra Bachman-Zabloudil, CAE, covering career mapping is the must-see portion, in my opinion. Her advice to develop soft skills and strategically planning for a career reopened thoughts and ideas for my own path. My goals have changed little in the last five years, but my means of getting to the destination have evolved as learning and mentor input bring light to a foggy trail. I encourage everyone to take at least one annual course directed at enhancing, developing or changing your dream career.
Dental phobias are nothing new, although the number of patients asking my advice on handling these fears for themselves or others is increasing. Perhaps fear is less stigmatized as a weakness or there is better understanding of phobias in general. Whatever the cause, more people are willing to admit their fears and attempt to overcome them. Dental Fear Central2 is geared toward the public yet contains valuable information for the dental professional as well. On this site, one can find support forums, information on common fears, and a guide to help the fearful reach the point of making a dental appointment.
Dental Fear Central is noncommercial and has no advertisements, although products available to decrease anxiety are addressed and explained. On the "technology and gadgets for easing dental fears" page, there is opportunity for dental professionals to submit reviews on a number of items aimed at making a dental visit more comfortable. The partner site for dental professionals3 offers a free newsletter with tips for helping patients with dental phobia. One great thing about the World Wide Web is the education contained is valuable around the globe, even though the newsletter itself is directed to dental professionals in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Sharing knowledge has no geographical boundaries.
My attraction to new products, technology and gadgets is a poorly kept secret; my mouth has been the testing ground for more brushes, antimicrobials and cleaning tools than I care to admit. One under the sink cabinet contains six different powered toothbrushes, yet only two Sonicare powered brushes occupy space on the counter. A Sonicare FlexCare Platinum recently joined the Sonicare DiamondClean and I honestly cannot pick a favorite yet. Professional information and details on the FlexCare Platinum are provided online.4 Use the left hand navigation tabs to search all the features of this outstanding brush. FlexCare Platinum has the features we expect from Sonicare and a pressure sensor feature that caught me by surprise. This is the first technology I've experienced with the ability to truly alert me to over aggressive brushing. The features of this powered brush actually provide an interactive means to teach patients better brushing skills.
The recent passing of graduation season brought with it the yearly lunch table discussion of lower wages and unemployed graduates from years past. The fear often centers on comments such as, "Graduates from 2010 cannot find employment" and "Dr. So-and-so just fired his hygienist of 25 years to hire a new graduate for less money." Both may be true in some locations, but do the worries accurately reflect the facts in our country? Luckily, this very topic is addressed in the annual RDH eVillage salary survey yearly. The survey was addressed in three issues for 2012, but you can read it in one sitting.5
The surveys are published after input from RDHs around the country; in fact, an invitation is extended for all hygienists to participate. The survey sections address recent graduates, national trends, and hourly wages -- I strongly suggest some reading time devoted to Part 2. Knowing those who receive daily rates experienced an increase in pay from 2011 to 2012 while hourly rates decreased can provide insight on directing the conversation at your next salary review. The information is available; using it is up to you.
Random browsing sessions provide fodder for thought on employment, products, patients, and professional development. Staring at the screen with a goal or topic in mind may be more time efficient, but broader learning is often achieved with an open mind and unguided fingers. Fill your search engine with the first dental thought on your mind and explore the almost endless opportunities for enlightenment. RDH
Web addresses mentioned in this column
LORY LAUGHTER, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics. She can be contacted at [email protected].
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