Sound the alarm!

The profession we love faces imminent upheaval if we fail to unite in our efforts to protect high-quality educational standards.

The profession we love faces imminent upheaval if we fail to unite in our efforts to protect high-quality educational standards.

Dear readers,
Dental hygiene is a great profession! Hygienists enjoy respect, flexible work schedules, and good pay. However, such a high level of satisfaction is often the source of a collective apathy. For the most part, we have been, to quote the prophet Amos, "at ease in Zion." The Israelites wrongly assumed that life would always be good. They didn't realize that their country was about to be conquered, divided, and forever changed. The warning signs were there — but they refused to see them.

I come to you today with a strong sense of urgency. I am here to sound the alarm! Are you listening?

The profession we love faces imminent upheaval if we fail to unite in our efforts to protect high-quality educational standards. The "warning signs" are already too apparent. Many states — Texas, North Carolina, Kansas, and West Virginia — have already mounted strategic efforts to dilute educational standards and allow preceptor training programs.

Make no mistake! Hygienists are standing strong in the face of this menace to our profession. However, it seems like so few are available for battle.

I hate to admit this ...
For many years, I was not a member of my professional association. I was "at ease in Zion" — busy with my children, happy in my job, and making good wages. However, a few years ago, when the rumblings of preceptorship began, I started to feel guilty about my lack of involvement. My good friend, Anne Guignon, chided me. "Dianne, I can't believe that you are a speaker, author, and educator, but you don't belong to ADHA!"

With a little prompting from Anne, I finally joined.

Excuses, excuses
Hygienists offer a range of excuses for not joining their professional association.

"It costs too much." Have you considered the costs of preceptorship? Have you considered what would happen if your pay was cut in half? Have you considered the substantial expense of keeping our educational standards strong, such as mass mailings, lobbyists, etc.? The cost of membership is about a day's wages; the ADHA also offers a payment plan to assist those who find it difficult to pay in one installment.

"I'm too busy." I used this excuse for years. Of course, if a "scaling assistant" ever replaces me, I'll have plenty of time on my hands! We can always find the time to do those things that are important to us — which brings me to the next excuse.

"I don't see the value in joining." It is easy to feel that we have all the knowledge we need to do our jobs. However, things are always changing. The professional networking opportunities alone offer tremendous value! In addition to receiving the ADHA publications, here are a few more benefits:

  • Automatic membership in your state association. A portion of your dues goes to your state and local dental hygiene association.
  • Member insurance plans. Major medical, life, professional liability, disability, and more.
  • Visa/MasterCard program
  • Auto insurance
  • Car rental discounts
  • Member long-distance calling program
  • Professional products catalog
  • Member email subscription list
  • Access to contact information for decision-makers at the state and local level

"I don't feel comfortable with the politics of the ADHA." When people tell me this, I always wonder what they mean. The ADHA is our national voice — the only voice we have to represent us in issues relating to the law and our licenses. I don't agree with every idea expressed in my Toastmaster's Club or church, but that doesn't stop me from attending. We need each other. Our diversity makes us strong!

"I really haven't given it much thought." Many hygienists are uninformed about what is happening in their respective state legislatures. Ignorance is bliss; however, when legislation passes that negatively affects the way we practice, you have no right to complain if you choose not to support your profession.

A matter of pride
Being a member of your professional association is a matter of professional pride. No valid excuse exists for any hygienist not to belong. After all, the overwhelming majority of dentists belong to their professional association, and their dues are significantly higher than ours.

Consider this your wake-up call! I hope I have convinced all RDH readers of the necessity of becoming a member of your professional associations. I challenge you to take control of your own professional life. Do not depend on others to do it for you. If you cannot show your support with your presence at the meetings, you can support your association financially.

Now to all ADHA members, I urge you to encourage other hygienists who are not involved to become part of your local group. Do you know five people you could call and personally invite to a meeting? Sometimes, that is all it takes!

Start the New Year right
This year is almost gone, but a new one is just around the corner. I hope you will start the year with a renewed commitment to your professional association. The future is unknown, but we can be certain that more battles await us over hygiene education. We need everyone! There is strength in numbers.

To receive an application, call (800) 243-2342 and press 1, or download an application from ADHA's Web site at www.adha.org.

Just do it — now!

Dianne

Dianne Glasscoe, RDH, BS, is an adjunct instructor in clinical hygiene at Guilford Technical Community College. She holds a bachelor's degree in human resource management and is a practice-management consultant, writer, and speaker. She may be contacted by e-mail at dglasscoe@northstate.net, phone (336) 472-3515, or fax (336) 472-5567. Visit her Web site at http://www.professionalden talmgmt.com

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