Editor's note: Becky Smith is the current ADHA president. Learn more about Becky's journey and career here.
As ADHA enters week three of this year’s celebration of National Dental Hygiene Month (NDHM) sponsored by Colgate, the focus shifts to “community.” On Tuesday, the free ADHA official podcast welcomes Anaika Forbes-Grant, MSDH, BSDH, RDH, associate manager of Community Oral Health at Colgate. She also leads their Bright Smiles, Bright Futures (BSBF) oral health education and prevention program. Find out how you can give back to your community and sign up to volunteer at a BSBF program near you! Be sure to post photos of your community volunteer activities and tag ADHA @youradha.
Community is defined on Merriam-Webster.com as “a unified body of individuals, such as a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society.”1 That definition certainly fits with ADHA’s mission of uniting and empowering dental hygienists across the profession and country!
Even within ADHA’s Strategic Plan, one of the four domains is “community,” where the goal is to provide an engaging, inviting, and supportive space for dental hygienists while celebrating our differences. ADHA’s domain and goal align with our 2023 NDHM theme of “Everyday Extraordinary.” Our community of dental hygienists are making extraordinary differences every day through their work in access and volunteerism.
Volunteerism can mean many things to many people. It can be as simple as helping a neighbor or giving time to a school event, to being a clinical provider during a mission event. Regardless of the relative “size” of the gift, volunteers are gifts that are appreciated everywhere. ADHA leaders at the local, state, and national levels are all volunteers giving countless hours to ensure that we, as dental hygienists, have our voices heard at legislative sessions, state dental board meetings, and CODA hearings, to name a few.
Every year at ADHA’s annual conference, we offer a community service day where dental hygienist attendees from around the country volunteer their valuable time, offering gratitude in the form of service to the city that’s hosting the conference. At the state level, lobby days at state capitols are where dental hygienists gather to speak with legislators to advance bills that we want to see passed in session. Local components may have collection drives where they gather and package items needed for homeless and domestic violence shelters. Grants for furthering community service are available through ADHA’s Institute for Oral Health Foundation. Past recipients are doing some amazing work in their communities!
Volunteerism also comes in the form of mentoring other dental hygienists. I signed up to be a mentor in ADHA’s Mentor Match program two years ago. This past August, I was matched with a hygienist and recent graduate in Colorado. This clinician was feeling alone and isolated as she had been temping since graduation; she had not administered local anesthesia in a year and had not performed Phase I nonsurgical periodontal therapy on any patient since graduating.
Although she is in Denver and I’m in Miami, I was able to spend a little time to connect with her, answer her questions, and put her in touch with two Denver-area dental hygienists. She’s now feeling much happier about her profession and career. The ADHA Mentor Match program is voluntary and a great way for newly licensed or seasoned dental hygienists to connect and speak with others in the profession who can help, offer guidance, or reinvigorate them to this wonderful profession. Apply to become a mentor volunteer or mentee today!
- Merriam-Webster.com. Accessed October 6, 2023. https://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/community