Upon communicating with your editor, Mark Hartley, a personal letter sent by Sara Monajem to me was submitted and published at her request within the parameters of your publication (Readers` Forum, February 1998 RDH).
Ms. Monajem?s decision to do so without my knowledge and consent was, in my opinion, improper and undermines her credibility.
The OnewsworthyO item printed in the ADA News was not about independent practice as Ms. Monajem would infer. It was about a rural outreach project implemented in my community to place teaching materials in the area schools and to help train teachers to better inform students about oral health. It was a teamwork effort on the part of industry, dental hygiene, public school teachers, and the dental association of this state. It was the culmination of two years of very hard work. Fronted only by dedicated professionals in all walks of life, the children of our community will be better served because we cared. I am proud to have been a part of this project.
The issue of independent practice is, at best, an old debate. I have nothing but praise for the educators who have the difficult job of preparing young ladies to become professional dental hygienists. As a deputy examiner for the hygiene portion of the State Board of South Carolina, I see firsthand the excellence with which these ladies graduate.
Independent practice and whether it is best for the public is an entirely different issue. The most difficult question we, as dental hygienists, must ask ourselves is whether we can put the safety and well-being of the public before all else? Even before ourselves?
I commend Ms. Monajem for her passionate convictions and believe them to be sincere, though misguided and under-researched. The SHOUT initiative is a clear indicator that people say OnoO to independent practice of dental hygienists.
The membership of her own professional organization has dramatically declined due in part to the open embracing of managed care by its leadership. In no state can dental hygienists legally diagnose, thus causing patients to go for a second appointment at a second location for an exam. Medically compromised patients need the doctorate degree of a dentist for the very best care. Every day I learn something from my boss about dentistry, compassion, common sense, health care, and community ties. I am sorry, Ms. Monajem, that you have not.
Dianne McKnight, RDH
Moncks Corner, South Carolina