By Mark Hartley
We play a game in my office on most Wednesday mornings. This week, the game was Password — yes, the old TV game show. The prize for the winners is a little extra time off, usually sandwiched around a holiday weekend. Why would the staffs of RDH, Dental Economics, Woman Dentist Journal, and Dental Equipment & Materials be competing for a little extra time off?
Come on now. You get your journals one day a month. Even if you read them cover to cover, it's still just part of one day. We read articles about dentistry every day.
Imagine the MTV cameras panning over the spring break masses — thousands upon thousands of college students taking a break from the books. One camera zooms in on an older guy wearing an RDH Under One Roof T-shirt. A roving MTV reporter saunters over to him.
"You're a little old for spring break, aren't you?"
"I'm not a college student."
"Ah, you're just a dirty old man hoping to get a glimpse of a bikini contest?"
"Nope. I'm just taking a break. I'm a dental editor who reads articles about dentistry every single day."
"Party on, homie!" the reporter exclaims, "Somebody get this man a true brew!"
The staff's game this week reminded of an episode of Password that I watched where a dentist and a dental hygienist were on the panel. Here's the transcript from part of it.
Moderator: (whispering for the sake of the audience) The password is autonomy. (in a louder voice to the hygienist) You may give your first clue.
Hygienist: Independence.Dentist: Democracy.
Moderator: Your second clue?
Dentist: Barry Goldwater.
Moderator: Calm down.
Dentist: (apologetically) I'm a fan of the late senator and Republican presidential candidate from Arizona.
Moderator: Okey-dokey. (to the hygienist) Your third clue is ...?
Hygienist: Whatever ... uh ... hygienists.
Hygienist: OK, that's it! Do I have to be paired with this idiot?
Dentist: Hey! Watch it! I pay your salary.
Hygienist: Not if I was self-regulated or autonomous. Get it? Autonomy.
Moderator: (interrupting) OK, now. Remember the folks watching at home. Let's control ourselves here. Let's try another word. (whispering for the sake of the audience) The password is crown. I wonder if she will give clues pertaining to the British royalty? (in a louder voice to the hygienist). You may give your first clue.
Hygienist: (quickly) Revenue.
Hygienist: (even quicker) Dental.
Moderator: That's a form of the password. You have one chance to say ...
Moderator: That's very good! Nine points to your team. The two of you are on the same page now! What a team! Audience, give this team a round of applause!
Your goal may be to ensure that farmers and their families who are hundreds of miles away from a dental office receive at least basic preventive dentistry. Your goal may be to ensure that older patients who are restricted — either financially or physically — from visiting a dental office obtain some form of rudimentary oral care just to ease the discomfort of one aspect of aging. Your goal may be oral health care in a very pure, simple form for all members of a community.
It doesn't matter, does it?
What do you bring to the table when negotiating with dentists? Your goals may be very noble and make perfect sense, but are you creating a win-win situation in their eyes? Considering the nature of the profession, it's always better if dentists and dental hygienists could be allies and not antagonists. What are the clues they are looking for as they listen to your plans to advance health care as provided by the dental hygiene profession?
Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH. He can be contacted at [email protected].