'Getting unstuck'

Jan. 1, 2011
This month's IneedCE.com continuing education spotlight course is Ectodermal Dysplasia. More than 120 syndromes are associated with oligodontia ...

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

This month's IneedCE.com continuing education spotlight course is Ectodermal Dysplasia. More than 120 syndromes are associated with oligodontia, including ectodermal dysplasia. The signs and symptoms of ectodermal dysplasia include sparse hair, dry skin, few and malformed teeth, deficient sweat glands, and dystrophic fingernails. Ectodermal dysplasia is most commonly the hypohidrotic X-linked version, affecting 80% of sufferers, and females carry the syndrome. Knowing the signs and symptoms of ectodermal dysplasia may help dental professionals identify potential carriers as well as patients with the disease.

As oral health care providers, dental hygienists tend to take care of others while putting their own needs on the back burner. Millie Echevarria-Thaw, RDH, developed a program that provides hygienists with the tools to move forward in their professional lives, yet make the changes they have dreamed about in their personal lives in a program entitled "Getting Unstuck."

The program puts clinical science aside for a moment and focuses on the individual hygienist's needs. "Getting Unstuck" is designed to help hygienists organize their thoughts and follow their passions to find the right opportunities for professional growth.

Goals of the program include:

  • Organize thoughts to create great resumes, cover letters, and curriculum vitaes
  • Demonstrate interviewing techniques
  • Discuss managing employment as a temporary employee
  • Implement treatment strategies for the medically compromised patients while incorporating caries and risk management through the use of a thorough medical history

Millie provides participants with not only sample resumes and cover letters, but also everything from her 25 years of research and experience in an A to Z format to bring back our love of the profession. She includes career motivation materials with the handouts.

In 1984, Millie decided to leave a geriatric dental practice after four years of working with Dr. Martin Cukier (his company is now DenServ Inc.), and found herself searching for a clinical hygiene position in New York City. She was an energetic young woman who was asked the same questions over and over by potential employers, but with no offers of employment. She began questioning herself – was she meant to be a hygienist?

When she finally did accept a new position, she questioned her profession even more. She had gone from directing a large staff of professionals, including dentists, doctors, and nurses in nursing homes in the Tri-State area, to being the only hygienist in a small private practice. She needed an outlet for her transition, so she began writing her thoughts down and created an interview form.

Over the past 25 years, Millie has mentored hygienists across the country. Her goal is to educate hygienists and let them know they are not alone in their career search and the feelings that accompany that search.

However, Millie wasn't always so confident. In her geriatric position, she presented in-service training for nursing home staff, but she was petrified of speaking before large groups. It wasn't until she participated in public speaking programs at RDH Under One Roof that she developed confidence.

She began slowly at first in front of large groups, introducing other speakers at continuing education programs, running for office as vice president for professional development for the Dental Hygienists' Association of New York, and finally presenting her own programs. In addition to "Getting Unstuck," Millie presents a program on evaluating and treating periodontal disease that she recently presented at the Greater New York Dental Meeting.

Millie has many interests beyond dental hygiene, including education, family, dogs, nature, cooking, and the arts. Her dream is to teach others her love for dental hygiene, yet she is a mother first and also a daughter helping her ailing parents. She is an active member of ADHA and is concerned for the future of dental hygiene.

Millie graduated from Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College with an associate's in applied science. She is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in dental hygiene at Farmingdale State College of New York.

A recent participant of one of Millie's programs sent her this message: "You are the most caring hygienist I have ever met. Many people claim to care but you go that extra mile. I can't believe that a 'presenter' actually called and cared about me!" Millie wants all participants of her programs to experience the same special care.

For more information about Millie's programs, contact her at [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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