RDH in 1990 is memorable to me because my youngest son appeared on a cover. He is about five years-old then. His back is to the camera as he holds hands with a "hygienist." For the most part, the magazine tries to use actual hygienists in its cover photographs. Sometimes, though, a model is used. And the model on the cover of the April 1990 issue certainly is beautiful. The same son in 1995 claims to detest girls. I will have to kid him tonight about how he got to hold hands with a model. My guess is that he won`t start bragging about the experience to classmates for, say, another four or five years.
1990 was a celebration of sorts. We celebrated, for example, families which had several members pursuing dental hygiene careers. The cover of the September 1990 issue featured Jean Terlaga and her two daughters. Writer Regina Dreyer asked Terlaga about why her daughters chose dental hygiene for their careers. Terlaga replied, "I believe they were influenced by how much I enjoyed my work. When I`d come home I`d be so excited and enthusiastic about my day I`d talk about it to my family. I believe my enthusiasm rubbed off on my daughters."
Then, in December 1990, we applauded the career of Ruth Pelton, a "fortysomething" hygienist in Long Beach, Calif. The magazine asked for hygienists who had worked for "twentysomething" years to reflect on their experiences. Pelton wrote the magazine, asking, "Would you believe fortysomething?" The 1946 graduate said, "I would choose dental hygiene again if I were doing it all over."
I lingered a bit over the December 1990 issue - since it was, after all, exactly five years ago. Former Senior Editor Irene Woodall`s column struck a chord with me. She was talking about the "old guard" in dental hygiene. "We thought they were a little behind the times and they really ought to move on to greener pastures and let the upstarts of the new generation take over," she remembered from her days in the 1960s. Then she acknowledged how the old guard turned the profession from being a "stopover between high school and marriage" into a career. Irene, of course, later became a prominent member of the old guard which propelled today`s dental hygiene into a major force in preventive and periodontal dentistry.
Each generation has made the profession better. What will the graduates of today accomplish on behalf of the profession? JoAnn Gurenlian`s article on the future of dental hygiene on page 10 touches upon that subject. One thing is clear: The profession needs to be focused on mapping out its future. The alternative is that organized dentistry will do it for you. JoAnn and I believe RDH readers are capable of planning their own future. But it does have to be done.
In the same column, Woodall also wrote, "I have the profoundest respect for dental hygienists who stay in the profession ... If we are happy, the time will go quickly and one day we will look around surprised to see that we have spent our entire professional lives as dental hygienists and that we are glad we did."
Let`s keep it this way.