Plan to get out more

May 1, 2012
Need a break from the daily grind of dental hygiene practice? Are you feeling a little bereft that it is spring yet you have little time to enjoy it?

Need a break from the daily grind of dental hygiene practice? Are you feeling a little bereft that it is spring yet you have little time to enjoy it? When was the last time you were able to have some time for yourself where you could take a break from it all and learn something new?

This column is about looking ahead, so maybe what you need is a chance to both look and plan ahead. There are a number of national and international conferences on the horizon that would provide the perfect opportunity for you to get away from home and work, network with colleagues, and acquire knowledge.

This June brings an explosion of conferences that you may find inspiring, exciting, and rejuvenating. As you probably know, the ADHA Annual Session is in Phoenix this year. Just before that meeting, the National Center for Dental Hygiene Research & Practice is offering a continuing education miniconference from June 12-13, 2012. The theme of this program is “Advances in Practice.” Topics to be discussed include antimicrobial resistance, 30 years of HIV/AIDS, medical and dental implications of eating disorders, considerations for treating women with cancer, and indications for bisphosphonates in medicine. Splurge and spend a week in Arizona. Treat yourself to a spa and shopping day, and then spend time for quality continuing education at the miniconference and annual session.

This year, the ADHA 2012 Center for Lifelong Learning will offer courses on clinical practice updates, nutrition, business practices, resume and career building, alternative practice, and community-based care. These programs span June 14-16, 2012. If you plan to attend this annual session, treat yourself to the exhibit floor to give yourself a chance to learn about new products on the market. I always see a lot of overfilled tote bags and hygienists scurrying around the floor picking up samples. After these meetings, I often wonder how I will get all my new samples stuffed into my suitcase for the trip home.

Exhibit time is great fun, but the post-exhibit part is what I like the best. This is when I actually take a few hours in the comfort of my room to examine each new product, read the accompanying literature, and make notes about what else I want to learn about these items. I sort through things and decide which items I want to share with my colleagues and which ones need further investigation to learn more about efficacy and use. I want to explore what these devices feel like in my hand and my mouth, so I can know exactly what my patients will experience. And I really treasure having the quiet time to do that without trying to squeeze this experimentation time in between patient appointments.

Hands down, the best conference I ever attended was the 6th Europerio meeting. The European Federation of Periodontists holds a conference every three years. Europerio 7 will be held from June 6-9, 2012, in Vienna, Austria. Topics include etiology and diagnosis, advances in nonsurgical therapy, periodontal medicine, implant treatment protocols, and management of peri-implantitis. There is a scheduled, focused program for dental hygienists as well, but the general session topics are much more interesting to me. I often find the hygiene programs at periodontal conferences tend to be dumbed down and not nearly as invigorating as the general programming.

Now, if you look at the timing of these meetings, you could spend a week in Europe and a week in Phoenix and probably get all the continuing education credits you need for the next licensing period. However, if reality dictates that you cannot splurge on yourself right now, consider the following upcoming opportunities.

During Aug. 1-3, 2012, PennWell presents RDH Under One Roof. This conference will be held in Las Vegas and offers workshops on the dental impact of mental health, managing implant complications, autoimmune diseases, modern cariology, personal protective equipment, oral pathology and periodontal updates, and navigating today’s clinical challenges. These meetings tend to celebrate dental hygienists. Combine that experience with a little nightlife where what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas and you can return to the work world refreshed.

If that is still too close for planning purposes, then look ahead to 2013. ADHA will be celebrating 100 years of dental hygiene at the annual session in Boston from June 19-25, 2013. Think about being part of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You know you won’t be around for the 2113 Annual Session 100 years from now! And from Aug. 14-17, 2013, you can be in Cape Town, South Africa, attending the Scientific Symposium of the International Federation of Dental Hygienists. Might there be a safari in your future?

I know it is hard to take time off, leave your family, and find the money for these lavish trips. I really do recognize that money is tight and it is not so easy to get away. However, if you plan ahead, you can make this become a reality. What you gain in terms of experience from these conferences, a sense of collegiality, professionalism, pride, innovation, energy, and excitement is worth every penny. I return home from these meetings revved and ready to try something new and different. I make new friends, stay in touch, and then we meet again at the next professional conference. If you have never attended one of these meetings, plan ahead and make this the year you do. And say hi to me while you’re there!

JoAnn R. Gurenlian, RDH, PhD, is president of Gurenlian & Associates, and provides consulting services and continuing education programs to health-care providers. She is a professor and interim dental hygiene graduate program director at Idaho State University, adjunct faculty at Burlington County College and Montgomery County College, and president-elect of the International Federation of Dental Hygienists.

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