I have been a dental hygienist for nearly 13 years. I graduated from the University of Cincinnati with high aspirations of the good I would accomplish and how best I could give patients the treatment they needed. I never thought for a moment that dental hygiene care would become just a "matter of economics." It is insulting to not only dental hygienists but, more importantly, to our patients. Dr. Neiburger`s letter (June 1999 issue) only clarifies his or her bottom line - money.
Productivity and economics do play an important role in any dental office. It is a subject that should be constantly addressed and reviewed. We all have to make adjustments to be as productive as possible, but not at the expense of patient care.
I don`t believe that most dentists have the same opinion as Dr. Neiburger. I believe most dentists want a hygienist who is knowledgeable and who can perform to his or her fullest abilities. I don`t think as a hygienist I am "deluding myself" by thinking the job I do is distinguishable from someone who is simply scraping teeth. My patients surely notice the difference. I have both new and existing patients who tell me so. I can`t recall the number of patients who have shared with me how different my treatment was compared to their experience in another office. Quality counts.
I am fortunate enough to have two employers who have the same philosophy. Our practice thrives! We provide the best quality treatment possible at a fee we feel reflects that. Our patients do recognize the difference.
As for Dr. Neiburger, I do agree we must all be efficient to prosper. However, I do believe we, as hygienists, can be efficient and provide quality care at the same time. It takes time to provide all aspects of dental treatment to my patients. I don`t treat my patients like a number in a line.
Dr. Neiburger, I don`t need to worry about a new profession. My qualifications and patient care have always kept me on solid ground. I don`t need "good luck," Dr. Neiburger. I provide patients with the quality treatment they need and deserve. That is the way of the future! Patients will demand it.