UOR attendee drove hundreds of miles, alone with her cat.
by Juli Kagan, RDH, MEd, and Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH
Some great stories have emerged from the RDH Under One Roof (UOR) conferences over the years. Hygienists from across the country, as well as a few international attendees every year, spend several days enjoying continuing education, social events, and friendships that only come from a dental hygiene meeting. Many hygienists once burned out by their profession become energized after attending UOR. Each hygienist has her/his own story.
Some stories are more compelling than others.
Juli Kagan, RDH, MEd, heard one such story at the 2008 UOR in Chicago. Juli is a Pilates instructor and continuing education presenter. Juli met Pamela Rachil, RDH, at a course during a breakout session where participants were discussing personal goals. Pamela traveled hundreds of miles, alone with her cat, in a Volkswagen Bug to attend UOR. The authors felt her story would be encouraging to those who had never attended, and interviewed Pamela.
Pamela is a 1984 graduate of SUNY Farmingdale in New York. She has been a professional temp for years in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. However, she was recently in a position that was nondental. She had been involved in sales/marketing but was laid off in June due to the slowing economy. Her former employer was located in Florida. So when she was laid off, Pamela decided to return home to New Jersey. With her belongings and her cat, Zsa-Zsa, Pamela made the long journey home in her VW Bug.
Once in New Jersey, she received her June 2008 issue of RDH magazine — a surprise since her mail had been “floating” along the east coast between Florida and New Jersey! Pamela read the issue with all of the UOR information and was intrigued.
She needed continuing education credits and felt that it would be a great way to achieve them in a relatively short period of time. Pamela also figured it would be a good way to network and circulate her resume for a possible new position. Airfares, however, were not cheap. Since she was unemployed, flying really wasn't an option. The thought of driving another 800 miles each way after doing the 1,500 miles from Florida just wasn't appealing. However, something told her she needed to go! Since it was a last minute decision, she didn't want to leave Zsa-Zsa alone for a long period of time. The pair started off on their long trek together, again.
Since this would be Pamela's first experience at UOR and she had never attended a hygiene-only event, Pamela didn't really know what to expect from the meeting. In fact, she half expected the courses to be boring and tedious. But to her surprise, the experience was fantastic! The courses were jam-packed with exciting and applicable information. She thoroughly enjoyed the lectures and the presentations, especially since experienced hygienists taught most of them. She was not expecting to see and feel the energy and passion that every hygienist she met exuded. Pamela met hygienists from across the country and Canada. She admits that meeting these hygienists helped revitalize her pride in being a part of this circle of true professionals.
Pamela's favorite course at UOR addressed laser dentistry. Since she worked in states where laser dentistry cannot be performed by a hygienist, she really hadn't given it much thought. She feels that if she had known about advances such as lasers, she may not have burned out from clinical dentistry. Pamela was also impressed with a course on risk assessments and the role that they can play in improving patients' overall health.
Pamela thought she would have plenty of time to make the rounds to all of the vendors in the exhibit hall, but she quickly found out that she was wrong! There was always something new to see or people to meet or time for class.
She tried to see all of the exhibitors but only managed about two-thirds of them. Every vendor, according to Pamela, was freindly and informative. She noticed that vendors at UOR are different than other conventions; she never felt any pressure to purchase anything. It was a very different atmosphere compared to other meetings, as vendors participate at UOR to educate rather than push products to sell. In addition, they are most generous with their samples.
Even a chance to pay it forward
With all of that generosity and education prevailing, Pamela even found an opportunity to pay it forward. On the last night of the conference, she drove back to her hotel, which was a distance away from the Chicago Hilton due to cost considerations. She met a young newlywed couple where she was having dinner. The wife was from Canada, and the husband was from Texas. The couple had met online and courted long distance for a year.
When Pamela asked them where they were honeymooning, they replied, “After dating long distance, just being together is our honeymoon!”
While they were waiting for their dinners, Pamela returned to her car, and retrieved some of the goodies she had received from the UOR vendors. She placed them into her pink UOR bag and gave it to the couple. It was an unexpected wedding gift from a real-life tooth fairy! The couple was overjoyed at the idea that a stranger would offer a gift but it was a wonderful way to spread the message of dental hygiene.
In addition to becoming passionate about hygiene again, Pamela enjoys dancing, biking, rollerblading, and cats. She was a ballroom dancer years before “Dancing with the Stars” ever existed. She still dances whenever she can, but finding a compatible partner is a challenge.
Her greatest passion is entrepreneurship; she loves business. She is a small real estate investor and has an interesting side business. For the past three years, Pam has taught pole dancing. That's right, pole dancing! Not stripping, but the real exercise that dancing with a pole can provide. She runs bachelorette, birthday, or “girls night out” parties for women ranging from ages 21 to 82 years. She was even featured on the television show, “Bridezilla”! Pamela has also traveled to Las Vegas to earn an instructor certificate and can teach four levels of pole dancing. She has produced a DVD that is in the editing phase.
For hygienists, pole dancing strengthens one's central core which can protect the back. Dancing provides a great upper body workout that releases muscle tension caused by clinical practice. For information on her classes. go to www.poledancer101.com.
Currently Pamela is at home in New Jersey and is the national director of product specialists with Snap On Smile in New York City. At every opportunity, she is telling every hygienist she meets what an extraordinary experience UOR is. She even admits that it is the best thing a hygienist can do for advancing one's professional career.
Pamela traveled hundreds of miles alone with her cat to attend UOR, even though she had no idea what to expect. Hopefully, her story will inspire you to look at dental hygiene with new insight, passion, and a belief that a changing perspective is possible. Attending UOR, with its renewing energy and commitment to hygienists will allow you to continue to grow and expand into a true dental hygiene professional.Information about the RDH Under One Roof 2009 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on July 29-31 can be found at www.rdhunderoneroof.com.