by Mark Hartley
Follow RDH magazine on Facebook
The glass-half-full enthusiasts do have a point. What's not to like about dentistry as we approach the 100th anniversary of G.V. Black's death? The good doctor had to power the drill with his foot. Think he wouldn't like to have about 95 million tools and diagnostic aids that you have at your disposal today?
In a way, it makes sense to think the glass of dental hygiene is half full. It's simply too negative to say otherwise.
So let me chime in. I would say that the glass of dental hygiene is half full because occupational injuries are way down. No one can get hurt if they don't have a job, or if their hours have been cut. The best ergonomic solution to carpal tunnel syndrome is: Don't employ anyone.
I just spent the fall months writing up various reports for the RDH eVillage/RDH magazine salary surveys. The reports can be viewed at DentistryIQ.com. Next month in RDH, I plan to list some comments from readers about employment trends in their states.
I can see the glass-half-full enthusiasts already covering up their ears. It's simply too negative to read about the tactic of opening dental hygiene schools on every corner, flooding the job market with graduates, and successfully lowering salaries.
Nah, you need to read them. It may not be a happy moment. But it would probably be better for you if the blood boiled for a minute. Getting steamed in moderation is like one shot of whiskey early in the morning (the daily habit of my wife's grandfather who lived to a ripe old age).
A justifiable defense for not reading comments by unemployed, downsized, and disillusioned hygienists is the question, "What would we do about it?"
It's a good question. I don't know the answer. Don't misunderstand me. I think you should be a member of the American Dental Hygienists' Association. The ADHA, though, has to carefully choose its battles and can't be on every Main Street corner. Overall, the association defends the purpose and goals of primarily Caucasian women who are often marrried and earn $30 to $50 an hour.
The one statistic that gnaws at me from the aforementioned salary surveys is that 70% of practicing dental hygienists feel like all of these economic conditions from the last few years have kept them from earning the maximum amount of income that they projected for that time period.
Does anyone care that 70% of women earning $30 to $50 an hour "cleaning teeth" didn't bring home as much as they hoped?
Well, RDH does, and so does the ADHA. The point is that the glass-half-full enthusiasts tend to focus on the wrong aspect of the negativity.
A dentist recently shared with me that the future consists of hiring MBAs to serve as office managers. No longer will a dental assistant be promoted to oversee the books. It will be an energetic young person who will be a whiz kid at marketing – no dental skills but he/she can put a buy-it-now spin on dentistry better than any polisher can.
Do you think G.V. is still interested in coming back to the future?
How long do you think it will be before someone realizes that a master's in business administation means shelling out some serious dough? What do you think the title of the DVD set will be for replacing MBA marketing whiz kids? "This set of nine DVDs can even train a homeless person for less wages about the exciting world of dental marketing."
Dentistry has been diluting the effectiveness of its occupations for several decades. The reason is greed.
So steam a little bit. Make sure the most influential patients who sit in your chair understand the value of preventive dentistry.
Past RDH Issues