I dreamed about the ADHA last night, and the room was messy.

May 25, 2016
I don't have an archive of my dreams, but I'm pretty sure I have never dreamed about the American Dental Hygienists' Association.

I don't have an archive of my dreams, but I'm pretty sure I have never dreamed about the American Dental Hygienists' Association. That's a work thing, and I keep work out of my bed. In the dream, I asked someone with the ADHA a question when I encountered them in the hallway during one of the association's annual sessions. Since I was interrupting her while walking from Point A to Point B, she signaled me to follow her into a room. The room was one of those areas where workers and volunteers gather to do things out of sight from the crowds. (We have such rooms at RDH Under One Roof too. They are good places for a moment of sensible privacy to finish up a chore.) Several ADHA staffers were moving about in the room, and it was flat out messy in there-boxes and paper everywhere. As I listened to her response, I had to step over a few things as I followed her around the room.

That's when I woke up. I presumably tripped over a box.

I wish I could remember which ADHA annual session it was (the association changes the meeting's location every year). I would have preferred to look at the local scenery than the messy room.

If you have never attended the ADHA annual session, I should point out that the meetings are very well organized. As an attendee, one is impressed by the tidiness, not messiness. They may well have a staff-only room that is cluttered, but it's a good show. They work as hard at hosting it as my colleagues at RDH Under One Roof do.

On this morning after the dream, I think it visited my mind because of all the politics last spring. I paid attention as much as I could to the debates and TV interviews for a long time. But after awhile, I thought, "Whew! This is messy!"

If life as a dental hygienist seems like a mess to you, what authority figure would you give the ol' questioning eye to? May well be the ADHA, eh? Let's say that person I was talking to in my dream got all of us together in a, uh, tidy room, and asked, "What do you want?" She would probably get 200,000 different answers. Some of us would request more autonomy from dentists. Some just want a deserved pay raise or job benefits. Some desire creative approaches for delivering care in multiple settings. Others want the rest of us to just shut up and focus on the oral health of the person in front of us.

It was during the height of the political season that I had that dream. The presidential candidate I liked lost. But his approach that our problems are complicated and we need to work together to resolve them caught my attention. The candidates who seemed to favor the Us vs. Them approach to politics advanced.

Dental care can be quite the complicated mess. The dental associations routinely modify protocols, and manufacturers make the task of delivering care easier and more predictable. Dentistry, however, has not evolved as rapidly as other occupations have. So we have what appears to be a mess at times. We have to work through these steps together, and this is what I encourage hygienists to do.

Mark Hartley

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