A refreshing walk…

All of the advertisers in RDH pay an established rate to advertise. Although some moan and groan that they have to take out a second mortgage on the house, an ad is really about the same price as a decent, used passenger car built sometime during the 1990s. Want to buy an ad?

All of the advertisers in RDH pay an established rate to advertise. Although some moan and groan that they have to take out a second mortgage on the house, an ad is really about the same price as a decent, used passenger car built sometime during the 1990s. Want to buy an ad?

I can't speak knowledgeably about the objectives of all marketing directors. But, for the sake of this discussion, let's say the hope is that 75 percent of RDH readers will notice an ad and recommend and/or dispense the company's products to their clients.

Your employer, of course, is also hoping that 75 percent of your clients are tickled pink - as in healthy gums - by the words of wisdom and services you provide, which possibly may include the usage of advertised products. Your employer runs a business too.

During the days immediately preceding the awards ceremony for the Butler/RDH Healthy Gums Healthy Life Award of Distinction, I sat in on the national sales meeting for Dental Economics, RDH, Dental Equipment & Materials, and Proofs magazines. The word "economics" in Dental Economics ought to tip you off. The discussions focused on the "dental market" and how the four dental publications would be affected by economic trends, as well as how we might - in a constructive way - shape the growth of dentistry.

You might be wondering what an editor was doing there. The editors from all four publications answered the hard questions. "Do you think you'll have any articles we can publish in 2003?"

"I dunno. We anticipate that 24 percent of our authors will submit articles on January 2nd because they weren't invited to a New Year's Eve party. We won't hear anything from them on Valentine's Day; they're all hopeless romantics. Probably 13 percent will get drunk on St. Patrick's Day. All of the authors have already graduated from college, so they'll probably stay home and write instead of hitting the beach with the MTV generation during spring break ..."

Such strategic planning wears me out. So I stumbled outside to attend the first event of the weekend-long events for the recipients of the Butler/RDH awards. The first item on the agenda was the photo shoot for this month's cover. Let me put the following sentence in italics so that we're crystal clear on my sentiments after talking with these eight hygienists at Chicago's Buckingham Fountain. It was like a cool summer breeze after a pleasant rainfall, where you walk and wave to passers-by with utter contentment.

Actually, the weather that weekend in Chicago was sort of like that. But it wasn't the weather that put a bounce back into my step. The eight recipients of the Healthy Gums Healthy Life Award of Distinction were truly delightful people to meet. Every little nook and cranny in dentistry is affected by some type of a business principle. It's not a bad thing. As far as I know, hermits are not treated by dental hygienists. We're all part of this ecosystem where health care has to maintain incomes for a huge crowd of workers and yet collectively achieve some noble goals of good health. The system usually works, even though it may seem mercenary at times.

Nevertheless, it was refreshing to spend time with these dedicated individuals. One award recipient shared some neat things she does to lift the hearts of the lonely residents of nursing homes. Another one told me about her valiant efforts to extend public health dentistry into remote areas. Another recipient's enthusiasm about routine care was infectious. Although "business" is a part of their lives too, it was just very nice to realize that inspiration doesn't necessarily involve making money.

Perhaps the truly unique thing about the Healthy Gums Healthy Life Award of Distinction was discovered during the judging process. I was the one who reviewed the judges' "scores" and determined who the recipients were. There were no tie-breakers. The award recipients earned the top eight highest marks. However, most of the entries submitted scored toward the top end of the scale. In other words, the eight recipients did not decisively "rout" their colleagues, according to the judges.

That's good news! There's a whole bunch of dental hygienists out there trying to do some good in this world. I think that's what RDH and the John O. Butler Company were trying to acknowledge with the awards.

Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH. He can be contacted at markh@pennwell.com.

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