I am a registered dental hygienist in Ohio and publicity chair for the Columbus Dental Hygienists` Association. I am currently a full-time student at The Ohio State University, School of Allied Medicine, working toward my master`s degree. With school occupying the majority of my time, I am practicing dental hygiene part-time, as a temporary, working with dental placement services.
My motivation in writing this letter comes from sheer frustration with fellow dental hygienists. I have been shocked at the lack of professionalism I am seeing in our field. This week alone, two different dental hygienists did not show for work at the practice they were scheduled. The placement service called the office 15 minutes before the hygienists were scheduled, stating they were just called and the hygienist wouldn`t be coming for work. In panic, the office staff was forced to cancel their entire day of patients. Not only is this inconvenient for the office, but for patients as well.
I found myself ashamed of those hygienists and believe them to be an embarrassment to our profession. What is even more disturbing is the frequency with which this is happening in dental practices. Other offices reported the same circumstances regarding several different dental hygienists.
Is it necessary to remind dental hygienists that we are professionals, receiving good wages and providing individualized care?
In Ohio, like many other states, we are fighting for dental hygienists to be able to practice without the direct supervision of a dentist. One of our defenses is that we are well-educated professionals who are able to practice dental hygiene therapy without a dentist on the premise. How can we gain respect as professionals when this is the behavior some "bad apples" are exhibiting? I believe dental hygienists are very fortunate to be in such a demanding profession, where working as a temporary is possible. Even though temporary hygienists may not have a commitment to the office where they are working, they should always have a commitment to the patients.
Rena Haas, RDH