Say something nice about yourself

Oct. 1, 2007
I once told my father that I was sending him an Arctic blast from Oklahoma. Someone in Manitoba had sent the cold front to me.

by Mark Hartley

I once told my father that I was sending him an Arctic blast from Oklahoma. Someone in Manitoba had sent the cold front to me. He was unfazed by the threat. Most warm-blooded Houstonians would be. He patiently explained the weather forecasting system for the nation’s fourth largest city.

“Light rain means that you will not have to water your yard for the rest of the summer,” my father said. “Heavy rain means that you should avoid Interstate 10 west toward Katy, Interstate 45 north toward Conroe, and any street in the city that is within a mile of a bayou.

“Torrential rain means that you should take your homeowner’s insurance policy with you into the lifeboat.”

I wonder how long it will be before I can start accurately forecasting dental hygiene manpower?

“Viewers, seminars explaining career alternatives for dental hygienists were hosted here and here and here, as you can see on the map. So next week, there will be a shortage of hygienists in these cities. In a moment, the news anchors will talk about how this manpower shortage gives dentists more ammunition to delegate hygiene duties to dental assistants, but, first, in other weather news ...”

Recently, I hosted a “build it and they will come” survey for my MySpace friends. I let them come up with the questions and then posted the survey on my profile so all MySpace hygienists could answer. A few questions were of the “get me out of this dental hygiene prison” variety.

A couple of inmates talking:

“What are you doing when you get out?”

“I’m going to toss my curettes into the lake. I’m going to eat some chewy candy right before bedtime. And I’m going to tell the doctor’s wife that her husband is an insufferable bore and that I feel sorry for her. What about you?”

“A friend of mine, uh, got ahold of the security procedures for a bank. You want in?”

Among other things, the MySpace survey (two-thirds of the respondents have practiced for less than five years and work full time) indicated an interesting mix of sentiments:

  • 52 percent believe there is a “possibility” that they will suffer “burnout later in their career.”
  • Only 15 percent believe burnout won’t happen to them.
  • 77 percent would still be a dental hygienist if they could go back in time and do it all over again.
  • Only 47 percent are not seeking more education to pursue career opportunities outside of clinical hygiene.*

If it’s a dental hygienist’s dream to become CEO of Microsoft, then that’s what it is. Many of us take wrong turns with our careers, and folks mistakenly veer into dental hygiene. The MySpace hygienists clearly think they made the right careeer choice. However, they also still think they will burn out? The trick is not showing dental hygienists the way out of a jail cell, it’s making dental hygiene such a fulfilling career that you never think in terms of being imprisoned.

The ADHA sent me a press release the other day about how they are celebrating National Dental Hygiene Month. The celebration every October usually involves some sort of noble cause, and this year the focus is on the oral health of teenagers.

The ADHA theme is terrific. Can you do one more favor for me this month, if you are still happily a chairside dental hygienist? Say something nice about yourself to a patient. Show how excited you are to be a dental hygienist. You have every reason to be proud of yourself. After all, this month is for you.

* 20 percent of the majority said plans/dreams for a “different career do not require additional education.”