Craig Dickson

Nov. 1, 2006
Even though my association with RDH dates back to 1985, there’s this chapter in my history with the magazine that’s, well, sort of dark to your eyes.

Even though my association with RDH dates back to 1985, there’s this chapter in my history with the magazine that’s, well, sort of dark to your eyes.

From June 1994 through August 1995, I did not have a single thing to do with the dental hygiene profession. In fact, I’m not certain if I was even treated by a dental hygienist during that 14-month period. I was unemployed part of the time, and lived in two different cities, moving to a third (Tulsa, Okla., the headquarters for PennWell) when I resumed my relationship with RDH. During that time period, I wrote about imprinted sportswear, industrial safety devices, and even took a stab at writing a novel.

A few years before then, in the spring of 1991, I met Craig Dickson for the first time. The setting was Atlanta and its convention center, which was hosting a conference for home medical products (think wheelchairs, not toothbrushes). Craig was an ad salesman for several magazines, including RDH, and I was the supervisor of the editor in the home medical market.

It was a pleasant exchange of pleasantries.

A psychic bystander could have said, “The guy you just shook hands with? You will know him longer than any other colleague during your career.” I would have been puzzled by the predicition.

That all changed in late 1995. Craig and I were 100 percent focused on RDH. Instead of a random handshake, we began communicating to each other several times a week.

Look at what happened. We have been colleagues for 15 years. Here we are in 2006, wrapping up the 25th anniversary of RDH. Since my photograph appears above, people tend to congratulate me about the magazine’s history.

I’m here to tell you that the person you should be congratulating doesn’t have his photo on this page.

I can’t think of anyone who has been more influential in increasing dental manufacturers’ awareness of the dental hygiene profession. The marketplace has been very supportive of the profession in recent years, with Craig very resourcefully and persistently leading the way.

Big deal? Just take a moment to visualize what your world would be like if the dental industry did not believe in what you do. Think about the resources that are now part of your daily routine and would be kind of hard to do without. Think about the financial support the industry gives the profession. Craig argued every day for years about the relevance of the dental hygiene profession.

I have stood there and listened while he made these arguments to people who I could tell really did not want to listen. I have watched him gently nudge along the RDH Under One Roof conference with a shoestring budget and manufacturers who needed to be convinced that it’s OK to exhibit products to an audience of just hygienists. And, of course, I can personally testify about how he has been a voice of reason when I was, uh, grouchy about something involving RDH.

Recently, I ate dinner with Craig, who is now the publisher of the magazine, and asked him how he felt about how things have changed for RDH and the profession.

“I have always felt rewarded by hearing stories of hygienists taking their careers to the next level,” he said. “A lot of the things we do in RDH is a testimony to how active dental hygienists are in the marketplace.”

Readers, thanks for humoring me with this Editor’s Note. We have been reflecting back on the last 25 years quite a bit in 2006 issues. If it has been boring you silly, the good news is that all this history stuff is finished after this issue. But I did want to say thank you to the colleague whose photo never appears on this page. The very least I can do is make the headline bear his name.

by Mark Hartley
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