RDH has a sister publication called RDH Graduate. RDH Graduate is an e-newsletter distributed to dental hygiene students and recent graduates. I was reading an article by Jackie Sanders, RDH, that was published in last month's issue. She offered examples of why some folks become dental hygienists. She wrote, "Whether it was because you were born to be a caretaker, had someone in your life that influenced your perspectives of dentistry, or because you thought it was a quick money-making career, each of you has found yourself in the dental industry."
For the better part of a decade, the federal government led a charge that a dental hygiene career provided great income for a minimal amount of education. We've seen voters on both sides of the spectrum buying into "fake news" to reinforce their political beliefs. Why would it be a stretch of imagination that we have dental hygienists among us who are in it for the money? What's wrong with that approach, as long as oral health-care services are being delivered competently?
I looked at the table of contents for this issue. Most of the articles are about delivering dental hygiene services more effectively. We don't have any articles, for example, about part-time opportunities that can help leapfrog a full-time practicing dental hygienist into a higher level of financial security. But we are publishing Carol Jahn's cover article. A long-time veteran of working for a dental manufacturer, Jahn writes that she is frequently asked, "How do I start doing what you're doing?"
For me, the best sentence in the article is, "Not only should you find a cheerleader, you should also try to find someone who can be your kindest critic." We can all use the type of mentoring the enables us to objectively accomplish our goals, particularly if there's a pot of gold at the end. If you listen to the American Dental Hygienists' Association (which you should be doing; the association does far more than just ask you for dues), the association has been talking for several years about the necessity of dental hygienists to create opportunities in today's economic environment. It's true that the association developed this advice based on a surplus of dental hygienists and certain habits developed by employers ("Punch out for no-shows and we'll call if we need you," for example). But there are entrepreneurs in dental hygiene who take this approach very seriously.
In the same issue of RDH Graduate, Hawkeye Community College in Iowa was profiled. Students were asked what they thought would be the "greatest reward" of being a dental hygienist. All of the responses are what you would expect from dental hygiene students, reflecting a desire to care for patients and develop meaningful relationships with them. Perhaps the author or an educator was selective about which comments were used. No one said, "My greatest reward will be to retire by age 45."
If a young hygienist does say that to you, what is your objection? You may be skeptical about the goal, but what's wrong with thinking about the money?