by Angie Stone, RDH
Reader describes how she connected at an RDH Under One Roof Conference.
As an avid reader of RDH, I have always been interested in attending an Under One Roof conference. I would read about the upcoming conference and wish I could figure out a way to fit it into my schedule of caring for my husband, our children, and our home - not to mention my full load of patients at the office. So as each conference would come and go, I would read the next few issues of RDH that contained articles about the conference, and find myself wishing I had been there. In August 2004, I was finally able to attend the RDH Under One Roof conference hosted in Norfolk, Va.
I had no idea what those two days would do for me!
As the only hygienist in a one-dentist office, I did not have any office colleagues to go to the conference with, and I could not convince any of my hygiene buddies to go. So I went by myself. As I walked in, I could tell it was going to be very different from any conference I had attended during my 20 years in the dental profession. My first observation was that this conference was all about me - the dental hygienist! The trade floor was dedicated to me! What a wonderful thing to have people interested in showing me new things! All of the presenters were talking to me about things that mattered in my world of dental hygiene! The people attending were interested in networking with me. How refreshing!
Throughout the conferences, I learned so much valuable information. I cannot begin to share everything, but I do want to share the most powerful thing that happened to me. I attended a session titled, “Achieving Your Ideal Position in the Dental Hygiene Profession,” presented by Christine Hovliaras-Delozier, RDH, MBA. Christine asked if we ever envisioned ourselves in a hygiene venue other than clinical hygiene.
I raised my hand and said that I had always wanted to be an educator. She asked if I thought I would ever really do that, and I answered, “Honestly, I don’t know.” I had to face the fact that acquiring a bachelor’s degree at this point in my life may never happen. I was enrolled in a four-year hygiene program in 1982, but my life took several unforeseen turns, and I never obtained the degree. It took me until 1997 to earn my associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Returning to school to finish my bachelor’s and becoming an educator was a goal, but one that lay deep within me, piled under many other responsibilities that took precedence. As I listened to Christine discuss the importance of setting goals, and stress that it is never too late to try something different, I felt as if she was speaking directly to me. She was awakening my dormant dream.
During the conference, I kept hearing an important and recurring message, “All dental hygienists should be members of the ADHA.” So I decided to renew my lapsed membership before the last seminar of the conference. The hygienist tending the booth was Kristy Menage Bernie, RDH, BS, who was also interested in me! When she learned I was from Wisconsin, she made a serious effort to help me connect with other Wisconsin hygienists at the conference. Because of her diligence, I was able to sit next to fellow Wisconsin hygienist Tammy Filipiak, RDH, BS, who was wonderful. We chatted, and she shared a lot of valuable information with me. One of the most important things Tammy shared was information concerning the college where she completed her bachelor’s degree. She encouraged me to check out the school’s Web site. She also put me in touch with two other hygienists from Wisconsin, Shirley Gutkowski RDH, BSDH, and Emily Kinsell Berger, RDH, BS.
My head was swimming with all of the information. So many new products to try, such interesting facts to share with my patients and co-workers, so many new friends to keep in touch with, signing up to become a “lister,” not to mention possibly completing something I had started 22 years ago.
It took me a month to get everything sorted out from RDH Under One Roof. I am now using some great new products, my patients are healthier and more informed about the importance of good oral hygiene, my co-workers have absorbed a touch of my renewed excitement about dental hygiene, and I am a member of Amy Nieves’ online Dental Hygiene Community (a “lister”). I have some great new friends and a whole network of people who are there for me, as I am for them.
In addition to all these wonderful things, I am now living the dream that has been dormant for so long. I completed two college courses this fall and hope to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in the spring of 2006!
I feel indebted to the organizers, speakers, trade show personnel and attendees of Under One Roof 2004. Everyone I met made a difference in my life, and for that I am thankful.
I am anxious to attend more conferences like UOR, participate in my local dental hygiene association and ADHA meetings, and network with great hygienists who are movers and shakers, ones who share the same goals as I do, and who want to make a difference in their world and the worlds of others!
After 20 years of working in small dental offices, I have discovered how important it is to be involved with others in this profession.
Dental hygienists can be so inspiring and helpful! When we connect, we discover that we are not alone and realize that we are all working toward the same goal. There’s no better way to keep us enthusiastic about our profession and help foster the longevity of our careers! Thank you, everyone!
Angie Stone, RDH, practices four days per week with a wonderful dentist and staff in Milton, Wis. Her special dental hygiene interests lie in patient education and non-surgical periodontal therapy. She graduated from Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wis., in 1997. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Jay, daughter, Ashley, and son, Spencer. She attributes her professional success to the continual support she receives from her family, friends, co-workers, and fellow dental hygienists. Angie welcomes your comments at [email protected].