I feel compelled to respond to your January 1999 Guest Commentary, especially after reading the letter from Ms. Slim of Georgia. I, too, was offended by the article and did not find it particularly amusing. I agree with Ms. Slim for the most part. But what I find disturbing about the article is that Dr. Horseman exemplifies the horror of modern medicine, the mechanical approach to health care. He wouldn`t have to go to such extremes to alleviate his boredom, if he would simply take the time to notice he is working on a person - not a set of teeth!
I am often asked what is the best thing about being a dental hygienist. I have been in practice for 24 years, and I love my work. How is that possible, when it is so monotonous? Because it is not! I don`t clean teeth. I provide a health care service for an amazing and diverse group of people. Each one provides for me an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to care, and an opportunity to share thoughts and feelings. When I work, it is never a one-sided transaction.
So to answer the question, "What is best about being a hygienist?" I answer, "It is a vast, immediately accessible human resource. Any time I have a question or a problem that needs solving, the expert in that area is in my chair, talking with me. You see almost everyone in every walk of life has teeth. I am able to encounter, in an intimate way, people I would not converse with normally. Often, people who I would not seek out socially provide great insights. How else would I find the time to talk with so many people and learn so much? And in turn, I give them my best health care possible. It is a wonderful job!"
Second to that are the benefits of virtual autonomy, professional respect, good salary, and flexible hours.
It is a shame for both Dr. Horseman and his patients that he has not taken the best opportunity his career offers, nor has he given it.
My friend, boss, employer said a few days ago, "I suppose we could be more efficient and make more money, but we wouldn`t have as much fun, would we?" He laughed and we went back to work. The efficiency experts would argue that we can have both; perhaps they are right, but we feel we have more than enough already.
Mila Cousins, RDH
Bonners Ferry, Idaho