Th 151768

Sages or sirens?

June 1, 2004
Do you consider yourself a discriminating professional? From whom do you seek clinical and professional advice? Why do you try a new product or change a technique?

by Ann-Marie D. DePalma

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Do you consider yourself a discriminating professional? From whom do you seek clinical and professional advice? Why do you try a new product or change a technique? Are the people who provide you with answers worthy of your support? Are they sages or sirens?

In her program, "Sages and sirens: Saying it is so doesn't make it so," Kristine Hodsdon, RDH, BS, asks her audiences these thought-provoking questions. Kristine defines a sage as someone who is knowledgeable and worthy enough to lead the profession in her/his area of expertise. A siren, on the other hand, is someone who has sizzle, but no steak, someone who may be popular and have name recognition, but who provides biased and opinionated information. With these questions, Kristine puts herself and the dental hygiene speaking profession in the bull's eye. In an energy-packed program, she provides audiences with a "top ten list" which enables participants to critically evaluate podium speakers' and authors' messages. Are they sages or sirens?

Hygienists are expected to stay abreast of new clinical information from hundreds of studies each year. The need for a systematic approach to analyzing this information has never been greater. Kristine's program offers a review of evidence-based decision-making, and the reasons why many professionals find this to be a practical solution to information overload.

Her program is a hybrid of material. Some of the information Kristine developed, and some she received while attending an evidence-based dentistry symposium prior to an ADA annual session, sponsored by Oral-B. She was one of more than 100 speakers, academicians, and writers who gathered to learn more about EBD. Shortly afterwards, Oral-B hired Kristine as the northeast regional manager of professional education.

After years of listening to speakers and writers talk about services or products without appropriate evidence based research or professional disclosure, Kristine became frustrated and researched the subject. While many speakers and writers give a disclosure statement, others don't. A disclosure statement acknowledges the speaker/writer/consultant's biases. We all have our biases, which is not wrong. What is wrong is the failure to talk about (or hide behind) the bias. Kristine discloses her background, as well as past and present sponsors of her programs. Program sponsorship can vary from having a mere presence to paying for the speaker's expenses. All speakers should disclose the relationship between them and their sponsor so that participants can make informed judgments regarding a product, course, or article.

While participants may feel that many speakers don't offer anything new, Kristine encourages participants to rethink their attitudes and ask, "How can I apply what I am hearing, even if I have heard it before?"

Hygienists need to remember that "old" hygiene ideas and protocols still work and are effective. Technology and science are rapidly changing, but do dental hygienists always need the "latest and greatest" to be successful? We need to practice the fundamentals such as blood pressure and oral cancer screenings, complete medical and dental histories, evidence based care, and good communication and listening skills. There is no magic formula for the perfect dental hygiene experience. It takes hard work and consistency. Kristine recognizes the "victim" mentality that often accompanies dental hygiene. She hears such statements as, "When organized dentistry does xyz, our profession will be better," or "Why doesn't ADHA do abc, then I'll join," or "Why doesn't my team support me more?" Many hygienists practice this "victim" mentality, which is a real concern for the profession, and one Kristine addresses in her presentations.

Kristine feels that providing the latest information at each presentation is important, and this often presents a challenge at a conference. Since many speakers must submit their handouts months before a meeting, Kristine is often adjusting her programs with the latest information just prior to a meeting. Even though this may conflict with the information previously submitted, Kristine feels the latest information is vital.

Kristine received her associate's degree in dental hygiene from New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord, and graduated with a bachelor's in organizational management from Daniel Webster College 10 years later. Because she waited years to complete her degree, Kristine encourages all second-year dental hygiene students to pursue a bachelor's or graduate degree program immediately. "If you wait, life continues, priorities shift, and the goal of an advanced degree may slip through your grasp. I think it's unfortunate to live life with unmet dreams."

She began presenting CE programs to share information not taught in dental hygiene school about esthetics and esthetic hygiene. Following in the footsteps of Lynn Miller, RDH, and Linda Nash, RDH, Kristine picked up the torch of esthetic hygiene and brought it into the mainstream. She started in 1995 when few meeting planners and hygienists understood the relationship between esthetics and hygiene. Kristine then began writing, teaching and consulting. She is an active member of ADHA, AACD and ADEA, and is the author of the book Demystifying Smiles: Strategies for the Dental Team, published by PennWell Publishing.

Kristine feels her favorite part of presenting is the research and preparation. She constantly learns and relearns information. Then she learns again from her audiences. She feels it is a great way to spend a few hours with fellow professionals, learning, and growing together! She feels truly privileged every time she speaks, and she hopes to make other dental professionals feel the same way by enlightening participants about the sages and sirens of the profession.

While Kristine has a passion for her husband, Mark, children, Catherine and John, her friends, and the simple things in life, her overall passion is balance. To define this, she uses an analogy — life is like juggling balls. In life, people juggle both glass and rubber balls. Knowing which is which is the key to balance. If you drop a rubber ball it will come back, but if you drop a glass ball it is gone forever. The key is to decide which you want to keep. For more information about Kristine and her programs contact her at [email protected].

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS is a practicing hygienist in a periodontal-implant practice.She is a graduate of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists, is active in the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists' Association, and is a Fellow of the Association of Dental Implant Auxilliaries and Practice Management.Ann-Marie has written articles and presents programs on dental implants, TMD, and developmental delays and can be reached at [email protected].