Tuning up your hygiene department

Nov. 1, 2011
It has been estimated that approximately 40% to 60% of the restorative work in a dental office is generated from the hygiene chair.

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

It has been estimated that approximately 40% to 60% of the restorative work in a dental office is generated from the hygiene chair. If the hygiene schedule has numerous voids and last minute cancellations, then the doctor’s schedule will ultimately suffer. If production is down in both hygiene and dentistry, the practice will suffer numerous consequences.

Nancy Miller, RDH, BA, has developed a program called “Tuning Up Your Hygiene Department.” This program explores the business of dental hygiene and how the practice’s dental hygiene department systems relate to the overall stability of the practice. She presents information on periodontal and caries disease processes, including diagnosis and treatment planning, insurance information, and the verbal skills necessary to present treatment and case acceptance for the patient.

Nancy also presents a program on ultrasonics called “Dynamic Differences,” which covers the differences between magnetostrictive and piezoelectric power scalers and how to effectively implement them in everyday practice. Through interactive lecture and practical exercises, participants use the ultrasonic equipment and inserts, along with hand instrumentation, to map out strategies that will be effective in practice.

Nancy offers hygienists a wealth of information and resources that can be taken back to team members in order to develop protocols for effective patient care. Hygienists often graduate from programs where the faculty, due to the demands of academia, are non-practicing clinical hygienists. New hygienists are often thrown into the clinical arena with little support from their new employer or team regarding the ways of the “real world.” Often there is little interplay between team members as everyone is busy with their own jobs, and they don’t calibrate what they should be doing. As a result, self-defensive mechanisms kick in and a hygienist may be afraid to ask for help for fear of looking stupid. Nancy’s programs offer a safe environment to ask questions so that hygienists can achieve effective hygiene practice.

Nancy began her clinical career in the 1970s era of “pick and flick.” In 1981, she was privileged to work with a periodontist, Dr. Doug Pierre, who understood the total health/oral health connection even before it was fashionable. Nancy found herself challenged in her clinical skills, and after working with Dr. Pierre she participated in courses with two Florida periodontists, Dr. Tom Holbrook and Dr. Sam Low, and became a believer in the benefits of power scaling using ultrasonics. She continues to spread her passion for ultrasonics with fellow hygienists.

Her programs have evolved from half-day lectures, to limited attendance hands-on seminars, to her present day format of a combination of hands-on and lecture presentations. Nancy is a Hu-Friedy Thought Leader (to see her profile there, go to http://bit.ly/qBGwct) and uses their products in her programs. Hu-Friedy graciously provides shipping and support for her programs, which allows her to keep costs down while providing participants with an opportunity to try great equipment.

Nancy’s “Tune Up” program is a PowerPoint presentation developed from her work with Jameson Management Inc. as a practice management coach. Jameson stresses the importance of 25 systems within a practice that must be in harmony in order for the practice to be productive and profitable, which results in reduced stress for all. Nancy discusses these systems and the roles of the entire team in the success of a practice. All team members can benefit from attending her programs.

Nancy graduated from Ferris State University’s dental hygiene program and has a bachelor’s degree in communications and management from Concordia University. She began presenting programs after teaching in a dental hygiene program and finding how much she enjoyed ultrasonics and education. She enjoys learning from others who present similar topics since she feels that the more one learns, the more that information can be shared with others. Her mission is to have all hygienists using ultrasonics on all patients, not just periodontal patients, and to have teams reach their highest potential.

Nancy has held many officer positions within the Wisconsin Dental Hygienists’ Association and is excited about the possibilities of the dental hygiene practitioner, a role that she has championed for two decades. The profession of dental hygiene needs entry-level practitioners, but also needs a pathway for those who choose to move into other arenas. Nancy is passionate about her fiancée, Chuck, their life in the country along the shores of Green Bay, her siblings, her cats, and her ability to make small but measurable differences in others’ lives and professional endeavors.

When she began her career many years ago, Nancy had no idea it would take her to new heights and places. To all of her mentors, patients, and colleagues who have encouraged and supported her along her journey, she has an enormous sense of gratitude. The journey has been rewarding, and she has so much more to go. Researching and creating programs that inspire others, or taking a hygienist’s hand and teaching him or her how to correctly hold and use an ultrasonic scaler are bonuses that continue to inspire her.

For information on Nancy’s programs contact [email protected].

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. Ann-Marie is currently a business/clinical coach for Jameson Management, Inc, a comprehensive coaching firm and also presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. She is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected].

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