by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS
‘Idiots’ though we may be, we maintain a belief in our special skills and status in order to pursue the practice of hygiene to the best of our abilities.
86 years - a lifetime! But for Boston Red Sox fans, every one of those 86 years ended with the words, “Wait til next year.” Beginning in late February to early April each year, the cries of “This will be the year” were heard, only to be replaced in late September and October with “Wait til next year.” Finally, on October 27, 2004, with the sun, the moon, and the stars, figuratively and literally “lined up,” 86 years of fan and team frustration and disappointment were erased.
This group of soon-to-be baseball legends who affectionately dubbed themselves “idiots” had the slogan of “We believe.” They adopted this motto to exemplify their desire for a world championship. They believed they could come back against all odds to achieve baseball’s highest honor. These “idiots” proved to be much more than the original Greek meaning of the word: persons of no special skill or status. However, in the modern world, we take the word to mean a person of lesser intelligence. This group of player/idiots pushed the limits of themselves and the team for the greater good, proving they were definitely persons of special skill and status.
As we prepare for Opening Day 2005, with no less than the rival New York Yankees, I can’t help but correlate the Red Sox experience to what we as dental hygiene professionals experience each day.
In dental hygiene, we can also adopt the “We believe” slogan. Here in my home state of Massachusetts, after many years of frustration, hygienists will soon be able to administer local anesthesia. Many hygienists fought for years to gain this legislative approval, while many of our fellow hygienists in other states enjoyed the opportunities that the ability to administer local anesthesia afforded. We believed that we would one day be able to provide our patients with the best care possible, and we accomplished it ... just like the Red Sox believed that they could come back and win from a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees, and they did.
In our own day-to-day practices, “we believe.” Many times, I have heard that hygienists - for whatever reason - have been professionally downtrodden. I have personally seen and experienced this as well. Experiencing a professional setback of one form or another is unnerving. But if we believe that - if when one door closes, another opens - then we will be able to accomplish anything. Unfortunately, in some instances, the door closing also means losing “family.” But if the professional “family” is truly a family and not merely co-workers, then that door closing doesn’t end the relationship but fosters and enhances it. We believe that we will find that professional family that will make our practice of dental hygiene what we want it to be. However, we must truly believe that there is that opportunity out there for us, even when - due to life circumstances beyond our control - it does not appear that way. “Idiots” though we may be, we maintain a belief in our special skills and status in order to pursue the practice of hygiene to the best of our abilities.
The Boston fans rallied around the “idiots” and adopted their own saying of “Why not us?” Again, “Why not us?” can be heard across the dental hygiene profession. Why not us for more advanced education - the advanced practitioner level? Why not us for more voice in our profession? Dental hygienists have the skills and the knowledge to advance the health and well-being of the public but are oftentimes overlooked in the health profession arenas. We, as a profession, need to use a stronger voice to be heard. But strength is in numbers and numbers equal membership. Membership in local, state, and national organizations gives credibility to the professionalism we are striving to achieve. Whether it is just to attend meetings or to become active participants in the operation of a professional organization, our professionalism and networking abilities are expanded when we become more involved in the associations.
The Boston Red Sox won their first World Championship in 86 years in 2004. They did it by hard work and determination. Many off-season trades and repositionings changed the face of the team, but hopefully the desire and determination will remain the same. Dental hygiene has a strong history and effective leadership that has led us to the threshold of advancing our professional goals and opportunities. We must continue to strive with hard work and determination to foster those goals. Ultimately, “we believe” that we can provide the best treatment options available for all our patients and the best opportunities for ourselves.
Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS, is the author of the “From the Podium” column that appears in RDH, and she can be reached at [email protected].