How should I be judged?
Kerri, I find you guilty of being innocent (Editor’s note: Kerri O’Connell wrote an article titled, “How should I be judged?” that appeared on page 34 of the September 2006 issue). Though you have 13 years of practice under your belt, you weren’t experienced enough to visit the hygiene operatories before you accepted the job. If, during your interview, you had asked to see the operatory you’d be using - if you had opened the drawers, inspected the instrument packs, checked out the ultrasonic scaler - you might have learned enough to decline the job.
If, during your interview, you had asked to meet the other hygienist and talk to her, you might have learned that she wasn’t disposed to be helpful, to share instruments, or to meet your high expectations - and you might have learned enough to decline the job.
Looking at it from the other end, I find you guilty again, this time of being timid. Any dentist who is too inept to make sure that hygiene operatories are well equipped doesn’t deserve a good hygienist, but also, any dentist is an employer, and deserves respect.
You could have pulled the dentist aside and stated the facts. The operatory and equipment were completely inadequate, and you could not provide good service to patients. The dentist might have apologized and addressed the problem, but let’s be realistic. He or she would probably have told you to talk to the other hygienist, then walked away. In that case, you could have stopped the dentist in his or her disinterested tracks, and stated your intention to leave. Any employer, no matter how incompetent, has a right to an explanation rather than a disappearance.
Now let’s face reality. In the same situation, I would have been sorely tempted to do the same thing you did. It’s much easier to walk away than to stand your ground. It’s more comfortable to sneak out the back door on your lunch hour than to chance an embarrassing, upsetting shouting match with a near-stranger.
But - but - shouldn’t we be tougher than that? Aren’t dental hygienists educated, licensed, competent, trustworthy employees, a step above the average off-the-street worker? Don’t we struggle every day to have dentists see us as professionals in our own right? Don’t we fight for self-determination?
Kerri, there’s always a next time. I’ve been a hygienist for 32 years, and I’ve left a dozen jobs. I’ve been ashamed of some of those leavings, but each time, I do a little better. Each time, I leave behind a clearer impression of the professionalism of dental hygiene.
Cathy Hester Seckman, RDH
Philips Oral Healthcare, a sponsor of the Sonicare Mentor of the Year Award, frequently promotes the annual award through advertising in RDH. In the August 2006 issue, two different advertisments about the award appeared, presenting what appeared to be conflicting information. The advertisement on page 61 was the correct one that was slated to be published in the issue. The advertisement on page 55 had been previously published and was not scheduled to appear again in the August issue. The information appeared to be conflicting and may have caused confusion among readers. We regret the error.