I was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., a neighbor to Alabama. I graduated from the University of Tennessee in Memphis in 1972. Preceptorship was a real issue to us there. I recall the Fraleys, a family of four who traveled to our dental office in Chattanooga on a regular basis from Ft. Payne, Ala. At that time, this was a distance of about 11/2 hours one way. Surely, Ft. Payne had at least one dentist! One can only guess why they would travel that far for their dental care.
I am opposed to preceptorship for reasons such as you pointed out (April 1999 issue). The University of Tennessee required dental hygiene students to complete 75 prophylaxis patients prior to graduation. I was told that a dental student only had to complete five! If this were the case, what would give him (or her) the experience to "teach" this skill to someone else?
Let`s hope the information I was given is incorrect!
I feel dental hygiene is moving forward in most states and has competent dentists backing its educational advancement. As with any professional organization, you always have a group of radicals who can`t see their nose before them. In dentistry perhaps this group is either power hungry, or possibly just plain scared of the direction dentistry is taking as a result of the influence the third-party payers (insurance companies) have on their profits.
At any rate, this fraction of the group is responsible for the desperate measures being taken to try to "rein-in" the dental hygiene profession. And, yes, dentists are dropping their memberships in ADA as a result of them.
For this reason, the practicing dental hygiene community must be a part of ADHA, as well as their state organization and local associations so they can be effective working together in a unified manner to educate the consumers. We can empower them so that they will demand the quality they deserve! With the support of groups such as AARP, the hygienists in California won their status to be "independent." Educational standards are currently being upgraded to reflect this advancement.
Call it fate! Call it destiny! But, without dedicated individuals working together to reach a common goal, would we still be asking ourselves, "What is a dental hygienist?"
Ginger A. Koshay, RDHAP