Late last fall when the Perspective column by Heidi Emmerling disappeared and her name dropped as a consulting editor, I thought you had at last come to your senses. I was dismayed when she reappeared in January 1997, but thought perhaps she had reconsidered her mission and reformed her style of writing. Clearly, that is not the case.
To begin with, she is not a good writer. If her readers have a hard time comprehending her, it is not because her ideas are so "high brow" or because of multi-syllable words. Her writing is redundant, pompous, and supercilious. She has a nasty habit of illogical conclusions, "2+2=7." Just being vehement and abrasive doesn`t make it so, Heidi!
For someone who welcomes criticism as flattery, she sure wasted a lot of valuable space defending herself in the April issue. She would be well-served to listen to those friends, colleagues, and the many hygienists who have written to object to the tone of her columns. The underlying rage which permeate her unending issues of hierarchy and inequality strike me as a thinly-veiled defense of her own personal issues.
She is not wrong that, as a profession, we need to be aware and continue to dialogue about a multitude of issues, but she fails to see that dentistry, not just dental hygiene, is being assailed on many fronts. The battle is not just RDHs against preceptorship or RDHs against doctors. That is a sure way to weaken the profession as a whole and won`t be good for anyone. Heidi, stop playing the Gloria Steinhem/Joan of Arc role. It is not productive, belittles those you pretend to be informing, and does not make you look good.
Sue O`Brien, RDH
Editor?s Note: We beg to differ with your comments. Ms. Emmerling is a very effective communicator through the written word. She takes the issues looming over dental hygiene to heart and wrestles with them deep within her soul. The column often is a very personal examination of what it?s like to be a dental hygienist in the 1990s. She?s allowed to do that since the OPerspectiveO column, after all, is an opinion forum. As a letter writer, you are entitled to your opinion as well.
We?re not aware of the Omany hygienists who have written to object to the tone of her columns.O Naturally, OcriticalO mail is a guaranteed occurrence when opinion columns are published. The amount of critical mail generated by the Perspective column is not any greater than the letters appearing in response to columns published in other magazines or newspapers.
Finally, RDH agrees that organized dentistry needs to OdialogueO together on a number of issues. We certainly encourage such communication in this magazine. But we also think it?s appropriate for dental hygienists Oto think for themselvesO about these issues. Dentists, by the way, rebel almost daily against the American Dental Association in other dental publications. Why shouldn?t hygienists exercise the same freedom of speech? It?s possible to support freedom of speech and still show a tremendous love for the profession. The Perspective column accomplishes this, expressing a passion for both dental hygiene and dentistry.