The dream is yours to have

I have a dream! These are four of the most famous words in America, and were spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the struggle for civil rights.

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CareerFusion encourages hygienists to fulfill dreams

by Gaylene Baker, RDH, BS

I have a dream! These are four of the most famous words in America, and were spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the struggle for civil rights. We all have dreams. They may not all be as profound as Dr. King’s. However, we all have dreams and a desire to make them come true. It is up to every one of us to put the pieces in place to begin the journey of living our dreams. One of the definitions of “dream” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a strongly desired goal or purpose.”

CareerFusion attendees ham it up for the camera during a Crosstex table presentation at the 2011 meeting.

What is holding you back from achieving your dream?

CareerFusion is a place where many things happen. It is a place where people go to discover their dreams; a place to learn how to get started on a dream; a place where people and their dreams are mentored; and a place where dreams are fulfilled. As a matter of fact, it was all created out of someone’s dream. Beth Thompson, RDH, is the director and founder of CareerFusion, LLC — the first resource for dental hygiene career advancement. CareerFusion is a result of Beth’s dream to create a place where she could mentor and help others achieve what they were seeking in their professional lives.

Before her dream started, Beth was approached by companies inquiring about dental hygiene candidates for various corporate positions. She soon realized her dilemma; she may know the individual personally but had no way of validating certain competencies the corporate world was asking. Beth and a long-time friend created a program where dental hygienists could go to learn and then prove their capabilities, network with peers and potential employers, polish resumes, and know that they would have the necessary skills to be successful and happy in a nonclinical position.

Currently, with a team of passionate dental hygiene advisors — and her husband and biggest supporter, Steve — Beth facilitates the CareerFusion event and experience annually. Some of the dental hygiene faculty and adjunct faculty past and present are Patti DiGangi, Shirley Gutkowski, Debra Grant, Fran Pangakis, Angie Stone, and Catherine Stark. They collectively bring together numerous years of clinical experience, practice management, business development, entrepreneurship, corporate experience, writing techniques, and information on becoming published, lecturing and speaking strategies, alternative therapy and treatment options, and technology competency skills. I’m sure everyone out there has heard of, or knows, one of these marvelous, full-of-energy women. If not, you probably know a graduate of the CareerFusion experience.

Each faculty member is involved with a specialty or focus. The design is to discover your passion and then you will be guided through the steps to be successful at achieving your passion. The development process will involve working with the appropriate individual best equipped to facilitate your growth. It is a personalized approach. Each attendee receives coaching to attain a level of proficiency in a specialty of their choice.

All of the program faculty are mentors and believe in dental hygienists and their potential. Each is full of inspiration and ready to mentor members toward achieving their full potential and dream. The faculty members believe in you (even when you don’t) and are full of motivation and encouragement. The best part is that each member receives yearlong support and mentoring after completion of the program. All you have to do is reach out and one of them will be there for guidance.

Efforts and resources essential to putting together a program of such magnitude necessitate an involvement by corporate sponsors. The relationship between the corporate sponsors and CareerFusion is symbiotic. The sponsors may be interested in hiring dental hygienists in a certain capacity, or they may be looking to apply members as key opinion leaders. The hygienist members get to learn about various companies, what companies may be seeking in potential employees, company products, and they may also make contacts for current and future networking. Many times it’s not who you meet or who you know that makes the difference, but who the person you meet knows and can put you in touch with. There is power in networking!

A calling for a sales career

In January 2011, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend CareerFusion as a member and as a corporate sponsor for the company I currently work for, Crosstex. It involved pre-attendance homework, and a lot of dedication to preparation for the meeting. Crosstex has long been a supporter of the dental hygiene community and is acutely aware of the value dental hygienists bring to product development and application.

My clinical career, as is the case with most dental hygienists, has had some peaks and valleys. I knew I wanted to expand my career beyond the clinical application of my training. However, change can be tough. I actively began seeking alternative employment in 2007. I knew I wanted to pursue a sales career; I could just feel it in my bones.

CareerFusion helps members take the steps in the right direction toward proper career development and change. You may be experiencing some or many of the same desires I encountered — a desire to expand your career in a direction without actually leaving the vocation you are devoted to. Even if you have no desire to leave clinical hygiene, there are always opportunities available that allow for professional growth.

Many hygienists attend CareerFusion with the intention of completely changing careers; other hygienists attend to intertwine their existing career with other professional ventures; some hygienists attend with no intention of changing their career but wish to enhance their existing career direction. As a matter of fact, many hygienists attend year after year because of the support and friendship they experienced during the previous event.

A beautiful butterfly does not become beautiful overnight. CareerFusion is a place that helps make transformations easier and more cultivated. It is a safe, friendly, and caring environment, providing mentoring and support not just during the event, but for an entire year afterward.

I am the luckiest person in the world to be able to work for a company that took a chance on someone without real industry experience, who then sent me to CareerFusion, and then gave me the opportunity to network with wonderful advisors who continue to support my career.

It is my dream that any one of you reading this can have the same experience. I want you all to wake up in the morning excited about what the day is going to bring rather than feeling depressed that you have to do something you don’t experience a passion for anymore. There is a way to regain the excitement for your career, even without changing careers.

We all need mentoring and guidance. There is a quote on the CareerFusion website by Carl Bard: “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” There is no right or wrong reason to attend, but there are many reasons to become a member.

CareerFusion is held annually in Daytona Beach, Fla. The 2012 program is slated for January 7-11 at the Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach. Be inspired and take the first step, or another step, toward living your dream!

Gaylene Baker, RDH, BS, graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. She has been employed in a variety of private practices for more than 25 years. Currently, Gaylene is employed by Crosstex International as the Midwest sales consultant.

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