I applaud the opinion expressed by Barry Parrish, DDS, in Readers` Forum (November 1995). I would ask that Dr. Parrish and others that share his viewpoint be more visible in their efforts to promote the viability of independent practice for dental hygienists. His comment: "The dental community at large has been unreasonably fearful of this concept," is what I believe to be the root of the divisions that encompass the dental and dental hygiene professions.
If this is in fact true, pursuing independent practice, at least in the private practice model, could be best served by developing a co-ownership model. A large part of the frustration hygienists feel is that they give their all to developing, nurturing, and building the "practice" of their employer with no vested interests. Oral health-care delivery settings, whether they be in private practice or otherwise, would be based on each member being responsible to all aspects of its operations including client/patient relations, financial stability, professional development, and the like. As profits and/or losses are shared equitably with all parties involved, the co-ownership model would provide vested interest in the overall health of the operation and develop a win-win situation.
We as dental hygienists are and will continue to seek opportunities outside of the traditional practice setting as long as we feel our mission is jeopardized, are not treated justly or compensated fairly for our efforts. Let`s look at ways that we can work collaboratively in all settings, bring optimal care to the public, and receive adequate compensation for our efforts, both in performance income and retirement income.
In speaking with a fellow colleague in the dental professional, he spoke of the importance of "community" among fellow professionals. I believe developing and implementing a co-ownership model can be a positive step forward in fulfilling the needs of those we serve as well as each oral health professional involved in the delivery of care. As Nelson Mandela so eloquently spoke, "As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Joan Kenney-Fitzgerald, RDH
President, Freedom Partnerships
Manchester, NH 03104-1419