Saving a dance for you

March 1, 2005
Have you ever attended a continuing education program where the speaker pulls out a full-size mannequin and sings a duet? If you have never had that opportunity, then Eileen Morrissey’s presentation on “Positively Outrageous Service” is for you.

Have you ever attended a continuing education program where the speaker pulls out a full-size mannequin and sings a duet? If you have never had that opportunity, then Eileen Morrissey’s presentation on “Positively Outrageous Service” is for you. Her program is insightful, educational, and informative with a humorous spin. Along with “Outrageous Service,” Eileen offers at least seven different programs centered on practice management, including “The Ultimate Recall,” “Asking for Patient Referrals,” and “Banishing Burnout.” Eileen is a member of the Seattle Study Club’s (SSC) Contemporary Periodontal Management Series, a select group of dentists and dental hygienists who provide periodontal seminars to hygienists and doctors throughout the country at SSC study clubs.

After coordinating programs for an educational group, Eileen decided early in her career that she wanted to present continuing education programs. She began with “The Ultimate Recall,” and from that point on developed speaking fever. The program was born out of the lament Eileen heard from various practitioners that hygienists do not have enough time at recall visits to do “everything.” The problem is not lack of time, but that doctors and hygienists have different expectations about recare protocol and don’t communicate their needs. After participating in her program, hygienists and dentists use Eileen’s design as a baseline for what will work in their practices.

During the “Positively Outrageous Service” program, participants learn to understand the benefits of providing exemplary service, how to raise the caliber of service on a day-to-day basis, learn positively outrageous service stories from other industries, and relate those to the dental practice. In addition, the audience learns appropriate protocol for follow through of the ideas taught. Participants learn how to anticipate the wants and needs of patients. In this program, Eileen is a bit outrageous as a lecturer, and this allows the audience’s creative juices to flow. It’s an interesting combination.

Eileen’s “Ultimate Recall Visit” program takes the “Outrageous Service” program one step further. In order to have the recare visit be a critical part of the practice, one must distinguish his or her office from others in the area. Superb service and protocols are what make an office shine. Doctors and hygienists must communicate and synchronize their objectives regarding the practice’s recare visit priorities. The “Ultimate Recall Visit” does just that by incorporating service-oriented philosophies into an effective recare experience that reflects the unique philosophy of the practice.

During her presentations, Eileen tries to find “friendly eyes,” the faces of people she can turn to when she needs support during the program. The “friendly eyes” are usually warm, open and attentive. She loves to be a “friendly eye” at other speakers’ programs as well.

In all of her programs, Eileen’s main goal is to help attendees help themselves. She is with them for only a fraction of their professional lives, yet she hopes they can gain something useful to apply immediately to their practices and build upon. She believes that learning in a continuing education program is the spark to a call to action, and that action can ultimately change someone’s professional work, and in some cases, their lives. She pledges that all team members who attend her programs will leave inspired by something they heard. She asks people to write down at least one goal that they will commit to from their experience.

Eileen’s programs contain handouts, and, depending on the topic, she usually includes goals, objectives, and an outline in the handout. Props, such as the mannequin, are a popular part of her presentations. Her favorite way to teach is to give the audience activities that will enable them to learn from each other. She is far from the “end-all, be-all” and loves to learn from those who participate in her programs. Holding a roomful of people in the palm of one’s hand is very powerful, and Eileen admits this with respect because there is no guarantee it will happen at any given program.

A Ridgewood, N.J., hygienist, Shirley Birenz, wrote to Eileen about the “Ultimate Recall” program, “In some ways, I was dreading a meeting that dissected our recall visit. You not only made it comfortable, but enjoyable and enlightening.”

As a hygienist, Eileen has evolved her clinical hygiene experiences into consulting, writing, and speaking. She would love to become a motivational speaker and writer. She is a member of ADHA and decided long ago to give something back to the profession that has been so good for her.

She feels, however, that many hygienists take their profession for granted and may be in for a rude awakening some day.

Eileen received her associate’s degree in dental hygiene from Fairleigh Dickinson University, a bachelor’s in science from the University of Rhode Island, and a master’s in health care management from Salve Regina College.

For more information on Eileen’s lectures and her “in-house, Consul-Talkshops,” visit her Web site at:, or contact her at [email protected] or 609-259-8008.

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS, has been a clinical hygienist for more than 25 years and is a graduate of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists, is active in the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists’ Association, and is a Fellow of the Association of Dental Implant Auxilliaries and Practice Management. Ann-Marie has written articles and presents programs on dental implants, TMD, and developmental delays and can be reached at [email protected].