I took a bullet for you

April 1, 2009
I did the dirty work. While the rest of you were freezing in late February, I boarded a cruise ship for Cozumel, Mexico.

by Mark Hartley
[email protected]


I did the dirty work. While the rest of you were freezing in late February, I boarded a cruise ship for Cozumel, Mexico. Folks, it was for business reasons. Yeah, right. I don't know my knots, but you could still see the skyscrapers of Ft. Lauderdale when I realized, “This isn't a job; this is a vacation,” and paid my own, uh, recreational expenses while out at sea.

Linda Miles and her associates — Dr. Rhonda Savage, Dr. David Reznick, and Lee Tarvin — invited me to join them at the Speaking Consulting Network. Since I have no interest in being a speaker or a consultant, I was cruising along with them, observing the pros do what they do best.

There's a little bit of a story to tell here. When the president of the United States or Linda Miles invites you somewhere, you say “yes” the first time. I'm uncertain if there's a hall of fame for speakers in dentistry. But if there is, Miles is inducted on the first ballot. She has been a beacon of hope for the profession for several decades.

The experiment to see if I would get seasick (I didn't) was Miles' fourth invitation. I declined the first two because a daughter and son graduated from high school and college, respectively, on the same weekends of SCN. So, darn, I missed meetings somewhere in Arizona and somewhere in South Carolina before I boarded this big old boat where these waiters were walking around with dozens of umbrella drinks on trays.

I took a bullet for you.

Someone phoned in my rejection of the third invitation when I was suddenly hospitalized the weekend of the conference. I must be the only person in the dental profession whom Linda has invited four times before he or she showed up.

But this time I stepped up to the plate, pigged out at the breakfast buffet, and staggered down to a converted ice skating rink where dental professionals from all over the country listened to pearls of wisdom from some of SCN's best speakers (and they are good — very good — if you have not heard them).

But, actually, the reason for this Editor's Note occurred while we were still in the Florida port of Ft. Lauderdale. SCN hosted its training sessions for its consultants, speakers, and authors.

SCN usually meets in late spring at various locations. There are a couple of other professional enhancement conferences worth mentioning here. CareerFusion meets in Daytona Beach each January, and It's Academic ... Let's Present It meets in San Francisco each summer.

I have also attended a CareerFusion conference, but I have to mention It's Academic here too, because dental hygienists whom I trust have literally stopped me in the hall and said, “Listen to me! Look in my eyes. It's Academic is great!” There are probably other similar meetings, but these three skill development conferences are the ones that I or PennWell/RDH are familiar with due to our relationships.

Dental hygiene is changing dramatically. Those great skills you honed in dental hygiene school are not enough any more, particularly if retirement is still a long ways off. The hygienists who participate in these programs are much more versatile in what they offer the dental marketplace. They possess the communication skills, for example, to move smoothly between clinical hygiene, hygiene education, and corporate hygiene. They truly represent the future of our profession.

These conferences are exremely expensive — as in take-out-a-second-mortgage expensive. But program coordinators often work with participants to acquire scholarships from dental corporations who want to invest in your future too.

I still don't want RDH magazine to become obsessed with strategies on how hygienists can leave clinical hygiene. But we do support your professional development.