OK, here?s the thing

Nov. 1, 2000
OK, here?s the thing. Dig deep into your network of hygiene pals. A friend of a friend of a friend is bound to now be living in Alabama. Go pay a visit; it?s a beautiful drive through Alabama.

Mark Hartley


OK, here?s the thing. Dig deep into your network of hygiene pals. A friend of a friend of a friend is bound to now be living in Alabama. Go pay a visit; it?s a beautiful drive through Alabama.

The gracious host will usher you into the kitchen and speculate that you must be hungry. A bite to eat sure does sound good, you confirm, as you sit down at the table. This friend of a friend of a friend heats up the skillet and drops an egg into the grease.

OLet?s talk shop,O she says. She hurls the skillet against the wall, pulls the microwave off the counter, crashing it onto the floor. She reaches into the cabinet and begins flinging glasses and plates every which way.

You?re thinking about waiting in the living room until the meal is ready.

She picks up a chair and hurls it through the bay window that shapes a nook. She locates the lighter fluid for the charcoal grill and floods the floor with it. She lights it with a match, and the smoke is making it hard to watch her finish emptying out the rest of the cabinets rather violently.

Finally, she?s through. OThis is dentistry on preceptorship,O she says. OAny questions?O

OK, here?s the thing. I am a consumer. You all go stand quietly by the wall while I think about my choice. The fee is going to be the same, regardless of whether I make a hygiene appointment in Oklahoma (where I live) or Alabama. I don?t get a break on the fee if I choose one hygienist over another. My insurance company doesn?t get a break either. So the price is not a factor.

So, let me see. Ms. Oklahoma either went to the University of Oklahoma or one of a half-dozen community colleges. She got her degree and license or she wouldn?t be standing here.

Ms. Alabama had to have passed too ? unless, of course, she?s a trainee. If she is a trainee, am I the first or the 30th patient she?s treated? Has she been to any of the required classes yet? No one announces to me what stage of her training she is in. What?s up with that? Oh, Ms. Alabama has already passed her exam and has her license? You?re right; there it is right on the wall. She?s been doing this for 12 years?

Well, that?s good. Say, do you happen to remember if she was trained by a periodontist, or just some guy who wanted to save a few bucks on the payroll? If it?s the latter, did he actually do anything, or just tell his other hygienist whom he OtrainedO to train her? Can?t remember, huh? Yeah, you?re right; it?s been awhile.

Well, OK, I sort of know what I?m getting into with Ms. Alabama. I know exactly what I?m getting from Ms. Oklahoma. The cost is the same, right? OK, here?s my decision: OI?ll take Ms. Oklahoma.O

OK, here?s the thing. I?ve written negative things about dentistry in Alabama in the past. If you?re wondering when, just take a look at the preceding paragraphs. Understandably, they don?t like it. A few months ago, I felt bad about this habit of mine. I thought it was time to allow Alabama hygienists to speak for themselves. So we sent out a survey to all of our readers there and asked some questions.

They were very considerate and honest with their answers. Sometimes they were angry with their responses. But most of the more callous remarks came from hygienists who moved to Alabama with a degree from another state.

I read every single comment that the Alabama hygienists wrote in response to the survey. The hygienists and dentists who participate in the preceptorship program very much believe in what they are doing. In fact, many of them suggested that I ought to stop bashing them and just come to Alabama. They believe I would feel differently if I received treatment from an OADHPO hygienist. Give preceptorship a chance ? that sort of thing.

I?ll pass.

It pains me to say that, since everyone I?ve ever met from Alabama is a model citizen. Alabama?s my type of neighborhood, my kind of crowd. Alabama residents generally know the true definition of friendliness. But I?d still cross the border for a hygiene appointment. Preceptorship just isn?t a good idea.

Editor Mark Hartley can be contacted at [email protected]