My picks for 2011

Dec. 1, 2011
I hope I make it clear as possible that I absolutely, positively could not exist without writers.

by Mark Hartley
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I hope I make it clear as possible that I absolutely, positively could not exist without writers. This is the time of year where I give thanks to the hours they spend at a keyboard, trying to think of what sentence to write next.

The picks below focus on the feature articles, which are typically written by authors who, at best, write for the magazine on a sporadic basis. Secondly, this article can be found at the top of the home page on — the links are embedded for your expedited access if you want to read them too. Finally, the hardest part of writing this annual thank-you is deciding which ones to “pick.”

January 2011 issue

Title: “Saving a life,” by Linda Blackiston, RDH

Note: What can anyone say? It completely astounds most of us that human trafficking still exists in civilized countries.

Quote: Most signs of abuse occur in the head and neck area, so the dental community is well-suited to recognize them ... Most abusers will not return to the same physician, but they will typically continue care with a dental practice.

February 2011 issue

Title: “Authority issues,” by Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, RDH

Note: Besides the monthly Staff Rx column, Watterson also writes feature articles. As the title implies, this one is about working on the same planet with the boss, making the quote below even more enjoyable.

Quote: A union group launched the “My Bad Boss” contest to “expose what is a growing problem” and give workers an opportunity to vent their bad-boss experiences. In 2006, the winning entry was Dr. X, a dentist who took $100 out of each employee’s paycheck for every canceled appointment.

March 2011 issue

Title: “Aging RDH,” by Cathleen Terhune Alty

Note: The author, a long-time contributor to RDH — hence not a fresh-faced rookie — started off with the below quote.

Quote: Yes, the age number creeps higher each year, but the true reality of being older can smack like the business end of a baseball bat. Ouch! Which hill was it that put me “over the hill”? Suddenly more sage than vixen, a been-there-done-that in a land of the new and now, a road-weary skeptic when promised more, better, and thinner! Maybe what’s worse is the question, “Is this all there is?”

April 2011 issue

Title: “A newfound respect,” by Colene House, RDH

Note: The author switched to the dental office’s front desk due to occupational injuries. Is it just me, or does anyone else think she had a rough first day?

Quote: At the end of the first day, my brain felt like it was sizzling ... I was not in the mood to talk on the cell to my sister. I had a crick in my neck that wouldn’t go away. When I arrived home, my husband looked at me and mentioned that my eyes didn’t look like they were focusing. Actually, he said that my eyes looked like they were looking in two different directions. At that moment, I think my head spun around on my shoulders about three times, which sent my normally patient husband running for cover!

May 2011 issue

Title: “Mayberry RDH,” by Cheryl Ivy, RDH

Note: The author’s hometown isn’t Mayberry, but it might as well be after you read her tribute to rural dentistry.

Quote: There’s our cleaning lady who already has several jobs yet faithfully takes care of our office twice a week to help pay off her dental bill. She also spoils us with homemade sweets. The modern day cobbler who insists on making a custom pair of cowboy boots for the dentist in exchange for a crown proves bartering still exists ... There’s the bachelor who lives in the country, but always comes to town on Wednesday to bring us farm fresh eggs, tomato plants in May, and plum jam in August.

June 2011 issue

Title: “Willing and compassionate,” by Kris Dowling, RDHAP

Note: We publish many articles on charitable dentistry each year, but this was a nice wrapup of an event in Oakland, Calif.

Quote: Immediately after my first patient, a team of two volunteers arrived to empty the collection container and refill the water bottle for the portable unit I was working at. It was a bit like a “pit stop” at a car race I imagined, but instead of changing my tires, my unit was being “rotated” by this amazingly fast team of two. I occasionally caught a glance at these volunteers as they cordially went around all day from unit to unit.

July 2011 issue

Title: “It’s not all about me? Really?” by Judith Stein, RDH

Note: If there was ever an excellent argument made that hygienists need to show a little more humility in the workplace, this is probably it.

Quote: As I began to evaluate the effect I had on my coworkers, I realized I was projecting an attitude of superiority without meaning to. I wanted it all! I wanted to learn everything, practice everything, and suggest everything at every staff meeting. When I became crazy on fire for dentistry, I noticed fewer interactions with coworkers. Without meaning to, I felt isolated from my coworkers, and I was ultimately the one responsible for this.

August 2011 issue

Title: “10th anniversary of 9/11,” by Winnie Furnari, RDH

Note: She was at Ground Zero, assisting in the dental forensics. She wanted to write this. So I just stood aside and let her. I was a little uncomfortable with the hope that everyone would receive their copy of the issue by the anniversary, so we published it in August instead.

Quote: Those of us who witnessed this event will remember the exact moment in time, where we were, and many things after that. This is called episodic memory, and is not fully developed until around four years of age. It is different from other types of memory because it is accompanied by a feeling of remembering and attachment, as opposed to factual remembering. Like many of you that morning, I was scaling teeth, a procedure integral to our existence and a familiar start to that horrific episodic memory.

September 2011 issue

Title: “Mentor makeover,” by Janice Hurley-Trailor

Note: The author transformed the appearance of the 2010 Mentor of the Year. I’m betting many of you would like to spend a weekend with the author.

Quote: Pam flew in from Huntsville, Texas, and we hit the ground running with clothes shopping, shoe shopping, and pamper appointments for a new hairstyle, eyebrow shaping, and makeup. It was a 12-hour day, lasting well into the night, complete with a photo shoot to top off the whole experience.

October 2011 issue

Title: “A bungalow in California,” by Noel Kelsch, RDHAP

Note: If you recognize the author’s name, yes, she is another columnist (Infection Control) who writes feature articles from time to time. In this case, she’s describing a rather idyllic setting for an “independent” dental hygiene practice.

Quote: When you walk into the California bungalow style building that houses Lisa Klockenteger’s dental hygiene practice, you cannot help but feel like you have just arrived at your favorite aunt’s home. The architecture of this green gabled building with a sloping roof takes you to another place and time. The front of the building is surrounded by a large porch that has wicker chairs for clients to relax in and enjoy the smell of lavender that fills the garden and the air. The ambiance is soft and clean with white and cream covering the walls; lace curtains and eclectic antiques surround you.

November 2011 issue

Title: “Are you kidding me?” by Thomas Viola

Note: The author is a pharmacist who is somewhat skeptical about the deluge of pain medications prescribed by dental offices on Friday afternoons.

Quote: Also, not every prescription we receive for opioid analgesics is questionable. I am just astounded by how many are. The sheer volume often leaves me feeling more like a goalie than a guardian of my patients’ health care.

December 2011 issue

You’re holding the issue in your hands. What’s your pick?

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