If we parked a For Sale sign in the front yard for dental hygiene, how would we tweak the listing? It’s still a buyer’s market. What happened a few years ago was that we decided we wouldn’t build a fourth dental hygiene school at the corner of Commerce and Main. But there’s still the matter of dental hygiene schools on the other three corners of Commerce and Main. There has been some persistent overcrowding in the community. It’s not exactly a slum by any means, but a sizable crowd of part-timers with minimal job benefits results in idle hands sitting on the stoop and shooting the breeze. The conversation isn’t always about the weather.
Untouchable landlords—Hollywood, that grand ol’ neighborhood, stirred itself up mightily when it was discovered that something supposedly extinct, the casting couch, is still very much part of the décor. What has hopefully nailed the coffin shut on that Hollywood tradition? Dozens of women assumed leadership roles to protest the shameful treatment initiated by the neighborhood’s landlords.
If dentists are exploiting the oversaturation of dental hygienists by offering lower and lower wages, as well as shrugging off questions about job benefits, what’s keeping the neighborhood so quiet? Dental hygiene is a career. The whole point of the dental hygiene profession is to prevent diseases that can contribute to a variety of health problems, if left unchecked. Dental hygienists need to be heard if there are landlords discouraging them from accomplishing this mission.
Neighborhood association—Yeah, nobody likes them, until folks start parking on their front lawns or placing unsightly decorations in plain view. If a wall needs to be painted, paint it! It’s your house! Show a little pride in it. We don’t have to be mirror copies of each other, but it’s got to be clear what the neighborhood represents. Yeah, everyone likes to kick dental hygiene associations around. But there’s a reason why we need our voices to declare why dental hygiene is the best career out there.
Safety zone—There isn’t a pole long enough that anyone would use to touch the dental hygiene profession. There’s something unsettling about looking out on this vast army and realizing everyone is hurt. Nobody wants to be supportive of neighbors who climb up on the roof without a ladder. Most people want you to open the door upon entering the house, not crash into it until it finally gives way.
Operate a safety zone around your career. Prevent the injuries that scare the bejesus out of onlookers. The ergonomic tools are there.
Neighborhood watch—Crime often happens for mundane or inexplicable reasons. It seems like a sudden shift in the wind is all it takes sometimes for a crime to be committed. The ethics of dentistry are based on evidence. There should be no indication that a transgression in patient care is permitted in this neighborhood. Watch out for each other ethically—always.
Dental hygiene shouldn’t be so hard to sell. The profession has a solid foundation and is well over 100 years old. The profession is majestic, stately, and a beauty to behold.