With all due respect to Ms. Emmerling`s often thought-provoking and stimulating Perspective articles, as the person who established the liaison position between ADHA and the American Veterinary Dental College and currently serves in this capacity, I feel compelled to respond to her recently published article addressing hygienists in veterinary dentistry (August 1997).
First of all, as to this liaison position being of interest to the membership, Ms. Emmerling alleges that Central Office divisions she spoke with "could not confirm a pressing interest of their members to establish this liaison." To wit, this topic was greatly requested at ADHA`s 1997 Annual Session Lunch & Learn segment. As to "the decision to establish this liaison strictly the President`s prerogative," this was a background/position statement formally submitted to the ADHA President in 1992, which resulted in Board of Trustees approval, not merely within the President`s pervue.
As relates to her questioning what the "sanctioning of this liaison by our official organization costs us not only monetarily but professionally," I offer that there is no line item in the budget for this liaison position - hence no budgetary impact. Professionally, it offers an alternative career path; perhaps altruistic, but nonetheless an alternative.
After having "just stated the facts ma`am," from a subjective aspect, it appears there are two separate issues here - veterinary dentistry as an alternate career path for the dental hygienist vs. serving the underserved! Let`s not co-mingle the issues. It has always been my experience that negative/adversarial tones in written or verbal dialogue are counterproductive. Let`s focus on the more pressing issues facing our ever-evolving profession!
Carol C. Weldin, RDH, BS
Editor`s note: At one time, it was considered negative and counterproductive to waste everyone`s time talking about the "rights" of animals. But those "wacky" animal lovers persisted, and, as a result, the animal kingdom enjoys a more benevolent relationship with humans - although, no doubt, much more needs to be done from moral and environmental standpoints. We don`t necesarily consider it negative and counterproductive to discuss in RDH the dental hygiene profession`s interest in veterinary science. After all, written dialogue does focus attention on all sorts of issues. The relevance of these issues is entirely subjective, based on the reader`s perceptions. We do concede an enormous interest in merging the expertise from both professions. In June 1996, RDH conducted a survey about reader interest in various topics. Veterinary dentistry scored very highly. We have to ask, though: Is this a bad or a good sign about the profession`s commitment to the health care of the "underserved?"