By Ann-Marie C. DePalma
California born and bred, Tricia Osuna, RDH, BS, can't imagine herself ever leaving the state to live anywhere else. Born into a seventh generation California family from the original Spanish/Mexican land grant families, Tricia attended schools where family members always surrounded her. She applied to the University of Southern California to be close to family and friends upon graduating from high school.
Tricia had always admired her hygienist, Judy, at Dr. Packard's office in Carlsbad, Calif. Judy encouraged Tricia onward to a dental hygiene career. Tricia admits that Judy probably has no idea how much she enjoyed seeing her and missed her the few times that she had to see the "other" hygienist. Tricia would like to thank Judy for being her mentor and for recognizing that the "kid" who was always getting into mischief can be successful! While at USC, she found she did not like taking tests and that she despised math. Yet she wanted to be a hygienist, so Tricia applied to seven hygiene schools throughout the country that offered a four-year degree to "just be finished and have the piece of paper which said she had attended school for four years." Tricia was accepted at all, including her choice of the USC dental hygiene program.
Upon graduation in 1978, Tricia became involved in local, state, and national levels of the professional association. Through networking, she met individuals who made recommendations, provided employment opportunities, or presented CE programs. The contacts in the latter group have taught Tricia how to do what she does! One such individual is Kristy Menage Bernie, RDH, BS. The two met during a campaign for the office of president-elect for the California Dental Hygienists' Association. Also, during her year as president of the CDHA, corporate entities noticed Tricia's potential and offered support for her presentations. Tricia is grateful for all of their trust and support throughout the years.
Tricia feels that, as a clinical hygienist, you can get a thrill from working with patients on a daily basis. But there is a different feeling of satisfaction when you are speaking with your peers and see a light bulb go on in their search for information to either help themselves or their patients. It is definitely a challenge, as well as a rewarding experience, to present courses to both students and practicing dental professionals.
Currently, Tricia is presenting courses on ergonomics and product overviews. She loves both topics because they encourage input from the audience. Although she has been a hygienist for 25 years, Tricia acknowledges that she doesn't know all of the answers, and participants of the programs help supply some solutions. Her attendees state that they have enjoyed her humor, motivation, and encouragement.
Tricia feels that, if one person leaves a program feeling better about themselves and the profession, she has accomplished her goal for the program.
However, due to the fact that practicing dental hygiene can be a lonely profession where there is no one to bounce ideas off of, Tricia feels we need a meeting place where it is safe to discuss various topics without challenge and without fear. We each have a lot to offer and if we listen to one another we can accomplish anything.
Tricia has traveled to such exotic places as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to speak at their annual dental convention and from there traveled to Beirut, Lebanon, for another speaking engagement.
She has traveled the world, but her favorite restaurant is not one that is the most expensive or has the most unique menu. Actually it is quite simple — a seaside resort in Piraeus, Greece. It is a favorite because she ate there at a time when she was experiencing new and wonderful foods, along with new friends in an exotic setting!
Over the years she has become involved with the Special Olympic programs in her area. Tricia feels that this is a most rewarding experience because you have to truly give of yourself to a group of individuals who appreciate everything that is done for them in an unconditional way! She highly recommends everyone become involved in his or her local programs.
When asked if she is an ADHA member, Tricia responded, "Absolutely!" Through the years, it has been gratifying for her to be involved with the association and to be an important part of the changes that have occurred within dental hygiene. From her work with her professional association, Tricia was appointed in March 2002 by the Governor of California to serve as the dental hygiene representative on the Dental Board of California for a four-year term.
Living well and laughing are two of her passions. Tricia describes herself as outgoing, curious, and sensitive, and wonders who will be surprised by those descriptions! She admires Amelia Earhart, whom she feels would have been a pioneer for hygienists because of her daring personality and character.
Tricia surely has many more adventures and heights to reach as well.
Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS is a practicing hygienist in a periodontal-implant practice.She is a graduate of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists, is active in the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists' Association, and is a Fellow of the Association of Dental Implant Auxilliaries and Practice Management.Ann-Marie has written articles and presents programs on dental implants, TMD, and developmental delays and can be reached at [email protected].
Tricia Osuna's upcoming presentations include:
• Aligning your instrumentation skills: From ergonomics to early disease detection, Central Community College, Hastings, Neb., April 11
• Aligning your instrumentation skills: From ergonomics to early disease detection, Southern Arizona Dental Hygiene Society, April 12
• Aligning your instrumentation skills: From ergonomics to early disease detection, Wisconsin Dental Hygienists' Association, May 2
• Aligning your instrumentation skills: From ergonomics to early disease detection, Ohio Dental Hygienists' Association, Total Development Weekend, Columbus Ohio, May 3
• Get Sharp on Sharpening, Long Beach Dental Hygienists' Association, Long Beach, Calif., May 6
Tricia can be contacted at [email protected].