“That’s not what the other hygienist said”

Aug. 1, 2010
As you provide clinical hygiene care, have you ever had a patient say, “That’s not what the other hygienist told me”?

by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH
[email protected]

As you provide clinical hygiene care, have you ever had a patient say, “That’s not what the other hygienist told me”? Many hygienists are placed in this position when they inform patients about a condition they don’t know they have. Dental team members need to be on the same page when they discuss patient treatments, including periodontal conditions. Mary Jacks, RDH, MS, has designed a program entitled, “That’s Not What the Other Hygienist Said” to address this situation.

The interactive workshop includes activities that are designed to increase agreement among dental team members. Specially designed typodonts enhance the hands-on activities that are intended to conquer calibration issues within the dental practice, and focus on solutions that work. Participants will:

  • Effectively detect calculus, which results in more consistent treatment outcomes between team members.
  • Determine periodontal classifications based on attachment level to increase communication accuracy.
  • Review and conquer instrumentation challenges in root concavities.
  • Record patient compliance with a simple index.
  • Calibrate instrument sharpening with all members of the team.

All members of the dental team will benefit from the increased communication, but the primary focus is for the hygienist.

Mary provides detailed handouts with all of the pictures and diagrams discussed during the program, and will provide electronic copies as requested. She uses a detailed PowerPoint program with lots of hands-on activities, with typodonts and various instruments provided by a corporate sponsor. Participants also answer questions using an audience response system, and collaborate with colleagues to resolve case study questions. By incorporating information from these areas, dental teams can reach an agreement, improve consistency in communicating clinical information to patients, and decrease workplace stress.

Mary also presents programs that focus on the calibration of dental hygiene faculty members in order to enhance the environment for students. Her passion is creating a fair learning environment for all students. After researching information on faculty calibration and finding little, Mary decided to do a pilot study at University of Texas Health Science Center. As she worked with her mentor, Nina Wallace, Mary developed her expertise in the area. She visited other Texas dental hygiene programs and worked with faculty on calibration issues and resolutions. Mary’s programs provide opportunities to “explore” issues regarding calculus detection, and “probe” into periodontal terminology and clinical attachment levels.

Mary received a bachelor of science in health education from the University of Texas San Antonio, and a master of science in dental hygiene from UT Health Science Center San Antonio. She has expanded her program to now include hygienists in clinical practice since she found that all hygienists can benefit from calibration within a practice. She has combined her research and personal experiences in an interactive practical workshop that gives participants several take-home messages.

She has been a member of ADHA for many years, and is concerned about hygienists’ public image. The general public is still not aware of the differences between hygienists and assistants, although the perceptions are improving. Mary enjoys meeting new people and seeing new places, but dislikes the hassles of traveling and the occasional technological failures.

Mary believes life is too short and that people should have fun whenever possible. She appreciates that people take time from their busy lives to attend her programs, so she tries to incorporate as much fun as possible. Her passions in life are to “live well, laugh often, and love much.”

For more information about Mary and her programs, contact [email protected].

Ann–Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH, is a fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and a member of ADHA and other professional associations. Ann–Marie presents continuing–education programs for hygienists and dental team members and has written numerous articles on a variety of topics. She can be reached at [email protected].

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