Readers' Forum

Feb. 1, 2002

This is not only a proud time to be a hygienist and an American, but also to be a soldier in the United States Army.

Hygiene and the militaryDear RDH,I just received my December 2001 issue of your magazine. I applaud your recognition of SFC James A. Davis, United States Army Reserves National Guard. It is good to see you acknowledging the efforts of the nation's armed forces. Having said this, I would like to tell you about the hygienists who are on active duty.

The United States Army currently has 19 hygienists on active duty status. At least 18 are providing direct care to America's fighting forces in Germany, Korea, and the United States. I am the 19th, and I am an instructor for the Department of Dental Science at the Army Medical Department Center and School in San Antonio. Here, we train soldiers to be dental assistants, preventive dentistry specialists (like our civilian expanded duties assistant counterparts), and we teach soldierization to dental noncommissioned officers and dental officers (dentists).

We also have 11 active duty dental hygiene students that will soon graduate from civilian dental hygiene programs in Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia. Upon graduation and completion of their boards, they will be sent all over the world to help conserve the fighting strength of America's sons and daughters who are serving their country. The United States Navy also has a civilian training program for their sailors, but I do not know how many hygienists they have on active duty status.

The Army Dental Care System has always been ready to support and defend our armed forces at a moment's notice. I'm sure SFC Davis's contributions to the nation are immeasurable, but while he is not supporting his country as a hygienist, there are plenty of others who do. They do not do this for pay purposes, but out of a sense of duty, obligation, and patriotism. This is not only a proud time to be a hygienist and an American, but also to be a soldier in the United States Army.

During the holiday season, I think we should not only remember the active duty soldiers, but also the Department of the Army Civilian and contract dentists, hygienists, assistants, and administrative personnel who ensure on a daily basis that our fighting forces are fit to bite — fit to fight.

Katherine F. Carrasco
Staff Sergeant, United States Army

Give an angelDear RDH:In regard to Dianne Glasscoe's Staff Rx column (December 2001), I work in my husband's office, and the office staff always came to me and asked what to buy at Christmas for my husband. Since he has everything that he needs, my suggestion to them was to select an "angel" off of the angel tree at a local store. Each angel represents a needy child, and they usually have many needs.

This year, we had fun shopping for a 13-year-old girl. We selected shoes, clothing, and toys, and we all felt good about what we had done. And, the doctor really appreciates knowing that a needy child has benefited at Christmas time.

Andrea Boone
Hertford, North Carolina

Ambidextrous hygieneDear RDH:I agree completely with Susan Halder, who wrote in the December 2001 Readers' Forum with a suggestion that hygienists should be ambidextrous. As a left-hander, I was also forced to learn right-handed when I went to school in 1972. I've never regretted it, and, like Susan, I believe ambidexterity has saved me from work-related injury.

Though I use my right hand for nearly all hand scaling, I switch hands regularly for power scaling and polishing, especially on the lower. I can walk into any hygiene operatory without worrying whether I can use the setup. Ann Nugent Guignon has also suggested lefties should learn to work right-handed for ergonomic reasons.

I would encourage any student, especially a left-hander, to force herself or himself to be ambidextrous from the beginning. For all the effort it takes, the benefits are worth it.

Cathy Hester Seckman, RDH
Calcutta, Ohio

Welcomed adviceDear RDH:Hygienists face trials and tribulations on a daily basis in many offices. So it is heartwarming to read the advice of such columnists as Cathy Alty, Dianne Glasscoe, Anne Guignon, Shirley Gutkowski, Kristine Hodsdon, Chris Miller, Trisha O'Hehir, and others. They offer us ever so many solutions to these problems. The encouragement to keep up with our studies and making available to us new techniques and technology, as well as the didactics that we are exposed to, can only enable us to be better at what we do — being the best caregivers to our patients that we possibly can be.

Thanks to all of your dedicated contributors and to PennWell for making this publication available to hygienists around the country. I only hope that all who receive RDH magazine take heed of the advice and information that is so readily offered by your expert columnists to us.

It is so easy to become complacent in this world we live in. When reading these articles I find that I become just so much more aware of the things that are important in the occupation that I have chosen to follow all of these years.

Jane Weiner, RDH
Tamarac, Florida

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