Well, OK then

Jan. 1, 2007
I don’t count heads. Well, I do for the salary survey, which is on page 40 of this issue.

I don’t count heads. Well, I do for the salary survey, which is on page 40 of this issue. Generally, though, if I ask a question, I don’t count the number of heads who have similar answers.

But it’s my observation that there’s this vocal minority of hygienists who defiantly say things like, “I only work for $50 an hour. I take four weeks off each year. Two weeks of vacation is spent at the most remote location on the planet I haven’t been to yet. I need my annual dose of dangerous extreme sports, or I get very cranky. The third week is spent in Europe. The fourth week I’m at the spa. Any questions about how I spend my time? The most important thing you need to know about me is that I’m the boss of the doctor, not the other way around.”

Well, OK then. Self-fulfillment is derived in many ways. This leads to probably the most legitimate knock you can make against the personalities of dentists. They rule oral health care, and many dentists sincerely believe their lifestyles and values based on their unique financial self-esteem are a perfect role model for just about anyone, including the yahoos who sit in the chair for treatment. It doesn’t work that way, Bubba.

But it works for many dental hygienists. The salary survey points out that there’s not going to be a mass revolt in areas where $25 an hour is the prevailing rate for hygienists. Most of them seem to be just fine with the idea of a vacation at an amusement park with the kids. Since it’s illegal in most jurisdictions for the hygienist to supervise the dentist, they don’t really test that kettle of hot water. All in all, the occupation of dental hygiene is not a bad way to live.

Shall we remain concerned about those hygienists who, uh, are hard to satisfy?

As long as dentists continue to allow some form of representation by hygienists on professional issues, the malcontents tend to be mildly annoying, don’t they? I mean, we all want to thank the trailblazers, and, yeah, let’s keep forging ahead on new trails. But, you know, sometimes we like to pause and just reflect on the pristine beauty of the trail we’re on this very moment.

However, if dentists shrug off dental hygiene as they sometimes do, the unsatisfied hygienists get plenty of air time, including right here in this very space.

We’re not really unhappy or happy about the state of affairs as dictated by the salary survey. It would be nice if more dental hygienists had health insurance, but insured employees in a variety of occupations feel like the existing protection is too expensive or almost worthless. Health insurance is definitely just a fringe benefit for many corporate employees these days.

We, of course, would like to keep hammering away on, please, job safety. Who knew dental hygiene could be such a dangerous place to work? In a very religious way, protect yourself against occupational diseases and injuries.

Then there’s professional pride. As mentioned in the article preceding the salary survey, we threw in a question about membership in the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. As explained, we encounter statements from members (not the association itself, which carefully avoids anything that smacks of this sort of elitism) implying that they enjoy, uh, a higher standard of living than non-members. The statistics behind those claims appear to have some validity. Well, OK then.

Dental hygienists are busy, often balancing families and careers in a very tiring way. Is there time and strength left over for professional pride?

RDH is supportive of the ADHA primarily because we believe it’s very important to your career that the ADHA exists. However, we’re not affiliated with the association, meaning we do not receive a single penny of any member’s dues. Are we clear on that?

Nevertheless, I was somewhat surprised by one reader’s reaction to the aforementioned question. The answers were simply “yes” and “no” to the query of whether or not you belong to the association. This reader circled “no,” underlined it, and added a couple of exclamation marks. Well, OK then. Chalk that one up as someone who does not belong to the ADHA. Even though our Christmas bonuses are not affected by the number of heads out there who are ADHA members, I am surprised when non-members are so adamantly against the most visible way of exhibiting professional pride - ADHA membership.

I really don’t want to count heads of belligerent non-members, but are you sure about that sentiment?

by Mark Hartley
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