Reader's Forum

March 1, 2012
I enjoyed reading the article on “Preventing Dental Erosion in the Pregnant Patient” in RDH magazine [January 2012] and plan on saving ...

Dear RDH:

I enjoyed reading the article on “Preventing Dental Erosion in the Pregnant Patient” in RDH magazine [January 2012] and plan on saving it as a reference for newsletters. In Washington State, we have a downloadable brochure for pregnant women and pregnant women with nausea. We developed these promotional materials as a simple way for all health-care providers to share the importance of oral health and overall health.

It is acceptable for students and other states to copy this material, as long as they reference the Washington State Department of Health.


I look forward to future articles.

Joella Pyatt, RDH, BS
Olympia, Washington

Dear RDH:

One of the things I look forward to every month is receiving RDH. I enjoy looking through the advertisements with the new products just as much as I do reading the articles. This month [January 2012], however, I was very disappointed after reading the feature article, “Annual Salary Survey” and the negative comments from hygienists across the United States.

There is no doubt that our nation’s economy has brought upon new hardships for many, including employment. Although this is the case, I am certain that pointing fingers or being negative will not solve any of the struggles many of us may be facing. The comment that I found common throughout the article was that there are too many schools now, which is causing a “surplus” or “flooding” of hygienists. Another comment states, “The two-year programs seem to allow every high school drop-out or distracted person looking to earn more than a waitress’s salary to now become hygienists.” To my fellow hygienists, I ask, “Where is all of this negativity coming from, and, better yet, where is it going to get us?”

As I research online, in local newspapers, on craigslist, etc., I am still finding a fair amount of new dental hygiene jobs being posted. Granted, there may not be as many as there were 10 to 15 years ago when our economy was not going through a recession, but the point is, there are jobs out there. To address the second comment, hygiene schools/programs are evaluated with a fine-toothed comb on everything from their curriculum and instructors, to the manner in which the clinic is run, and documentations of all competencies are kept.

Even if a “high school drop-out” (again, hygiene programs almost always require a high school diploma or GED equivalent) were to be accepted into a program, do you think he or she would make it through the program’s rigorous courses and competencies, let alone pass the board exams required for licensure? No, I didn’t think so either.

Finally, the comment I was the most disappointed in was from an Oregon hygienist who states, “Oregon is terrible for finding dental hygiene jobs. OHSU discontinued offering dental hygiene and the board approved opening programs in schools like Apollo. It is demeaning to the profession of dental hygiene, and there are way more hygienists than available jobs.”

As a licensed dental hygienist in Oregon and Washington, practicing full time, I graduated from the CODA-approved Carrington College (formerly known as Apollo College) with my associate’s degree in 2010 and am proud to say so. The dental hygiene program at Carrington College in Boise, Idaho, has been established for years, and there is a program at the Mesa, Ariz., campus as well. The Boise campus is an approved examination site for the WREB (Western Regional Examination Board), and the Portland campus is an approved site as well.

It appears that the reader who made this comment did so out of bitterness and negativity, rather than upholding the professionalism that a dental hygienist should have. I have a question for the hygienist in Oregon, “How can the school be demeaning the profession of dental hygiene when all of the students took entrance exams, were required to achieve high grades throughout the program, pass all of the required competencies, and finally take all of the exact same board exams to obtain licensure that any other graduating hygiene student from any other school must do?”

All of the same standards that are required at other hygiene programs throughout the state are upheld at Carrington College. The curriculum and competencies were formed from the already well established campus in Idaho, as well as from other well known schools in the Oregon area. Furthermore, the graduating class that I was in had higher than average scores on the national board exam. This comment was out of line, and made under false impressions without researching the program.

In conclusion, I would hope that in the future we, as professionals, could be more positive about our profession and the outlook for the future. Pointing fingers and highlighting negative things is not going to change anything. This comment sums it up, and is from a hygienist in Utah, “I feel that with more hygienists in the workforce, maybe everyone will start working together to expand hygiene into more areas such as public health, pediatrician offices, hospitals, etc.” This is the attitude that we all should have to help maintain the success and create a future for our career.

Tasha Fleming, RDH
Longview, Washington

Dear RDH:

I was very disturbed to read the comment from a Texas dental hygienist stating, “The two-year programs seem to allow every high school dropout or distracted person looking to earn more than a waitress’s salary to now become a dental hygienist” [January 2012 issue].

Being a dental hygienist in Texas myself, as well as a graduate of a two-year college, I was highly insulted. In fact, the survey showed 58.9% of hygienists only have associates degrees. Your hygienist on the cover is from Texas, and you even had an article about negative messages in magazines.

I feel printing this comment was an error of your judgement.

Lauren Schroeter, RDH
Kingsville, Texas

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