The growth of a graduate

March 25, 2005
What do bamboos have to do with dental hygiene? Symbolically, plenty.

by Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage

Have you ever heard the saying about a newly planted bamboo: The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps. It is documented that bamboo grows only three inches in the first few years then by the third or fourth year it can grow over 80 feet. What do bamboos have to do with dental hygiene? Symbolically, plenty.

The seed for your professional growth in dental hygiene is already planted. The boards are over (or almost) ... your senior year and all its requirements are quickly wrapping up, graduation is within your grasp, and many of you have started the interviewing process.

If you've felt that progress has been slow while you're in school, wait until you transition your skills from a 90-minute school appointment to a 60- or even 45-minute schedule. Parts of you begin to feel like you are creeping again. Yet, other parts are ready to take on more -- get set.

Make sure you have taken the time re-new or re-join the American Dental Hygienists' Association. "Stop smirking" is what a close friend once told me when we talked about joining anything. Some of you may feel that you do not have the energy to join or feel passionate against being a member of any organization. You may feel that you would rather be a lone ranger � well, give it up and begin to believe in the fact that you need other hygienists to succeed.

Next, start to uncover any areas of opportunities in your clinical or didactic skills and hone them now while the seeds are still being nurtured. As soon as possible, begin to take continuing education courses, seek out a mentor and breath. Once the growth begins it will be enormous and rapid, so being prepared is the best way to ensure your growth will mirror that of the bamboo.

Here are a few other suggestions to fertilize your thinking to help get you started.

1. Create an empowering relationship with the doctor and team you work with.

2. Have you discovered the practices' philosophy??

3. How can you enhance that philosophy?

4. What do you want to contribute to the team you work with and the patients you serve?

It's never too early to begin to monitor for success and manage for profit.

1. Do you know what and why to monitor your dental hygiene production and services?

2. Do you know how to monitor and keep track of it?

3. Do you know how to present the "magic numbers" so you can share the news that your department is thriving?

Be the expert not the employee.

1. Have you established a network or resources to learn about new products, the evidence behind them and their usage?

2. Are you developing your listening and communication skills to increase case acceptance?

Build career progression via leadership and confidence.

1. What do you want to contribute to the dental hygiene profession?

2. Where do you see yourself 1-5 years from now?

3. Are you fueling your personal and professional self?

Even though the bamboo plant grows fast once it starts, it can only do that through energy. The more energy (leaf mass) the bamboo plant has when it is planted, the faster it will grow. This can be the Year of the Hygienist, and I truly believe that you are our newest successes. Begin with energy, allow yourself the time to grow, and look forward to the heights you will reach.

Kristine Hodsdon can be contacted at [email protected].