Pennwell web 400 180

Generation Gap?

May 1, 2012
The “generations collide” when Seth Mattison delivers his keynote session on Aug. 2 at the RDH Under One Roof (UOR) conference in Las Vegas.

RDH Under One Roof keynote focuses on the generations

Do you remember the primary factor that motivated you to attend RDH Under One Roof the first time you arranged to attend the dental hygiene conference?

The “generations collide” when Seth Mattison delivers his keynote session on Aug. 2 at the RDH Under One Roof (UOR) conference in Las Vegas. His presentation is titled “What Happens When Generations Collide” and will offer his insight on bridging the generations in the dental workplace (see a video about his seminar at

The conference conducted a survey among alumni with a hope to determine how different generations perceive the benefits of the annual dental hygiene conference. Participants were asked to identify in which generation they were born and then answered specific questions about UOR.

The selected comments below reveal generational responses:

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

  • Yes. It was the desire to get all of my continuing education credits at one time.
  • My fellow girlfriend (a dental hygienist) dragged me along with her. Good thing. She is also a boomer.
  • Was told it was great, with an invigorating audience and experience.

Generation X (1965-1980)

  • I wanted to see different potentials of being a dental hygienist, including work environments and practice.
  • I heard that it was a good event to attend, and I needed inspiration.
  • To remind myself that I still liked being a hygienist, even though I am dissatisfied with my current employer.

Generation Y (1981 - 2000)

  • A friend told me about it.
  • My fellow dental hygiene schoolmate and her mother, who is also a RDH, were attending.
  • I wanted to network with other hygienists from around the world.

What was the main value that you derived from attending the continuing education programs at RDH Under One Roof?

Baby Boomers

  • I valued networking, valuable evidence-based studies in presentation form, and keeping current in a changing field. RDH Under One Roof is what kept me in dental hygiene. I was thinking about changing careers, but my first exposure with UOR stuck with me; it impacted me even a few years later and here I am, still in DH and loving it even more.
  • I really got some good feedback and made connections with people working the same job I do in all of the states.
  • New information that can be applied immediately in private practice.
  • It was so energizing to be part of such a large group that was there because they wanted to be there and become better hygienists.

Generation X

  • The exposure to new products.
  • Meeting other hygienists and product information.
  • That I am a valuable team member in my office.
  • UOR targets role of the hygienist and focuses on concepts, info, latest technology, and how hygienists can implement them into their careers.

Generation Y

  • I am in charge of my destiny, knowledge is empowering.
  • I personally felt valued. Somehow, UOR validated my profession to a higher level, and I felt respected and like I really knew something, and that I really do offer a great service to the public. UOR helped me kick up a notch everything that I do with my patients.
  • The main value was that I am not alone. Many RDHs around the country have the same problems or concerns as I do. It’s refreshing and comforting to know that I’m not incompetent or singled out for a specific issue, and I can find help and support from course speakers and fellow RDHs without feeling judged or looked down upon.

What was the main value that you derived from the “networking” features of RDH Under One Roof, whether it was making new friends, relaxing at a reception, etc.

Baby Boomers

Brainstorming and venting about similar situations in the dental field
  • Networking was fabulous! I found so many people working in the same public health settings that I do. So many good things came from the whole conference.
  • Listening to others’ ideas about ways to practice, and how to do things easier and more efficiently.
  • Knowing that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.
  • Making new friends that have continued via Internet — fun receptions and activities in the evening.
  • Generation X

    • Information on new products and socializing with fellow hygienists.
    • Had a lot of fun meeting hygienists from different countries.
    • Getting to find out the different settings RDHs can work in and the different types of career advancements.
    • Partying with colleagues.
    • I am not alone.
    • We are all educators in regards to oral health and we can share ideas.

    Generation Y

    • Although I am a “recent grad,” what I have to say matters. Dental hygienists make the best cheerleading squad, so supportive.
    • Meeting other topnotch dental hygienists, and feeling respected by them.
    • We got to see many of our classmates from our schools and it was nice to be able to relate to everyone who attended in one way or another.

    If a dental hygienist from a different generation asked you about your attendance at RDH Under One Roof, what would you emphasize in your reply?

    Baby Boomers

    • It’s a great opportunity to learn a lot in a few days, plus all the CE credits are wonderful.
    • I would say that it was fun, informative, and useful.
    • Knowledge. My team is younger and I emphasize that school offers only the bare basics, and expanding their knowledge is necessary in the profession.
    • It is geared just for the dental hygienist, and they do it in a big way. No dentist stuff to muddy the water. That is why it is a perfect place for the hygienist to network; it is all about us and it is easier to do this when the place is filled with fellow hygienists or those looking to employ one.
    • This is a great educational opportunity, and the ability to meet and network with people is incredible.
    • It’s fun, valuable, entertaining, and FUN! (yep, said it twice).
    • I would encourage them to go no matter their age. There is something for everyone, and it is an incredible experience that all dental hygienists should be a part of at least one time.
    • Consider going to open up many opportunities for the future of your career.

    Generation X

    • I would tell her that it was a great experience.
    • Great way to stay up-to-date with the latest evidence-based research.
    • Education and enjoyment.
    • I would still have the same response: It was inspiring.
    • That all generations are welcome, and we can always learn from each other.

    Generation Y

    • The energy at the meeting is unlike any other meeting you have ever attended. Hygienists who attend UOR are those who invest in themselves rather than expecting their bosses to do it. The organization of the meeting and the cost are better than other large meetings.
    • It’s a great conference with specialized classes just for RDHs and it’s for all RDHs in any moment of their career. If you just graduated from school or if you are a “veteran” RDH, you will always feel welcome and that you belong.

    For more information about RDH Under One Roof or Seth Mattison’s keynote presentation, visit

    Course description for “What Happens When Generations Collide”

    It used to be that older workers had all the answers and the younger ones followed orders. How things have

    Seth Mattison

    changed! Now, with four generations vying for a place at the conference table, roles are being rewritten and rules are all over the map — whether you’re a seasoned veteran managing those younger than you are, a skilled Gen Xer managing upward, or the new Millennial in the workplace.

    Seth Mattison is a young writer and a fresh new face on the speaking circuit. A key contributor to the new best-selling book “The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace,” his primary interest is in workforce trends and his generation — the Millennials. His presentations focus on the generational divide between younger and older generations and how bridging the gaps can infuse new ideas and energy into organizations everywhere. Seth works with executives across the country to help them understand how they can best maximize their young talent, as well as maintain connections with their experienced workforce, to drive innovation and sustainability.

    More RDH Articles
    Past RDH Issues