by Mark Hartley
Cathy Seckman starts her article about the Mentor of the Year by describing her first encounter with Anne Guignon. It was in a restaurant, and Anne's presence sort of lit up the place.
This luminance is the exact opposite of what I want to talk about here.
On the other hand, who says dental hygienists should be bland wallpaper that only gets noticed when there's nothing else to examine?
Anne's personality has driven her to be one of the most popular writers and lecturers in the profession. But the, uh, noticeable side of Anne's personality — the part that Seckman noticed right off the bat — isn't what led to the Mentor of the Year Award that was handed to her in Costa Mesa, Calif., as a part of the RDH Under One Roof conference in March, and I can personally attest to that.
My own observations of Anne's mentoring abilities have occurred in much quieter situations — zero fanfare surrounding them. On occasion, a RDH reader has written or called in to say (in a short version), "I'm wounded. I'm out of here — can't take it anymore." Since I'm just an editor without any particular expertise in nursing collapsed careers back to health, I have passed along many of these contacts to Anne.
She's not batting 1.000. There have been, sadly, too many hygienists slipping out of this profession with an air of dejected resignation (one very good reason why more hygienists need to become mentors). But there's more than a few of you who have benefited from Anne's great compassion for colleagues and her ability to jumpstart careers. There's more than a few of you who are more excited now about what you do for a living than the first day after graduation — thanks to Anne's guidance. And almost all of this mentoring was quietly handled with late night phone calls and emails, as well as the occasional encounter at a dental meeting. The spotlight on Anne had been turned off, and no one knew the mentoring was going on except me. A few days later, Anne would call, "You remember the email from Cindy/Donna/Kathy (most of the time I didn't) that you sent to me ... I had the most interesting conversation ..."
This, of course, is more of the atmosphere that I want to write about in this space. I have had the good fortune to realize that dental hygiene shines brightly in random, obscure locations across the United States. I also enjoy good fortune in that I do not have to work very hard to persuade others of this fact. The two examples that I want to cite here are dental manufacturers. Sunstar Butler and Philips Oral Healthcare completely buy into the notion that dental hygienists are a great group of people. Both companies agree that the wisdom of dental hygienists is something that needs to be tapped into as often as possible. The two companies, of course, are not the only ones who feel this way, but I'm mentioning them here because they collaborate with RDH on the Mentor of the Year Award (Philips) and the Healthy Gums Healthy Life Award of Distinction (Butler).
The ADHA, of course, is another example. The association strives to maintain good relations with dental manufacturers, and it succeeds to the point where there is active cooperation with some other awards bestowed on dental hygienists (and students, as most of you know).
Butler, Philips, and RDH seek out dental hygienists who quietly push the profession forward. We believe these hygienists enhance the level of respect for the dental hygiene profession both among other dental professionals and in the communities they serve.
I hope RDH readers feel encouraged to share their wisdom with both the Mentor of the Year Award and the Healthy Gums Healthy Life Award of Distinction. The former program, of course, is sometimes easier to consider since you nominate someone else, an individual who has truly earned your respect.
The latter is basically a self-nomination — a concept that is harder for some of us to indulge in. But, again, I can assure you that the first 16 recipients of the Healthy Gums Healthy Life Award are dedicated, humble dental hygienists who felt they had some ideas to share in regard to relationships with patients. The most remarkable thing about them was the relative obscurity where they labored. They make the light of their profession burn brightly wherever they are.
I'm going to extend the deadline for the Healthy Gums Healthy Life Award for another month. Please see the advertisement on page 73 for more details.
And, Anne, congratulations for a well-deserved recognition of all you do for the profession.
Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH. He can be contacted at [email protected].