A funny thing happened on the weekend – more work!

Feb. 1, 2011
When Friday rolls around, the only thought you have for the folks you spend 30-plus hours a week with is, "See you Monday!" Enjoy the days off.

by Mark Hartley
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When Friday rolls around, the only thought you have for the folks you spend 30-plus hours a week with is, "See you Monday!" Enjoy the days off. Besides your own oral care routines, dentistry won't cross your mind on Saturday or Sunday.

Contribute, though, to the local economy during the weekend by stocking up on those cherry flavored beverages and roasted garlic hummus that you enjoy so much while relaxing.

The state intrudes at least a couple of weekends each year, doesn't it? By law, you are required to appear in auditoriums with other dental professionals. The state thinks the gatherings reassure the public that you know what you're doing on Monday through Friday, once you've earned those boring CEUs. So for a few weekends each year, the hummus stays in the refrigerator as you grab a seat and wait for the lights to dim for the PowerPoint presentations. Tempur-Pedic pillows are available for rental in the lobby.

Sometimes they make a festival out of those weekends, don't they? Receptions are hosted in nearby hotels and the alcoholic buzz is on someone else's dime. Merchants set up shop too, in a rather bazaar-like environment.

Watch out! Sometimes the merchants even step out into the aisle to hand you a coupon or sample.

They can't show some restraint here in the exhibit halls? What would Noel Kelsch, RDH magazine's columnist on infection control, say about the contamination on a coupon handled by a dental merchant?

You silly fool you! There was actually a gem of an idea presented during the seminar. Business is going to go through the roof, and patients will be sending you Christmas cards instead of the other way around. Everyone is going to be so grateful when you arrive back home and back in the office.

The sign on the front door will say, "Margie, RDH, went to a seminar and came back with such a great idea! Hold on to your socks because your experience today will be unlike any other dental appointment you've had during your sorry existence of never flossing and generally ignoring all the health-minded advice we give you."

Let's flash forward to Monday. Yes, the boss listens – at least you think he does. After all, it's Monday morning. The glance of "you go ahead and write a 10-page memo about this idea of yours and I promise to at least stick it in my file cabinet," however, speaks volumes.

"Uh, yeah, the production statistics you need for your hygiene operatory report are on a disk in the safety deposit box at the bank. I'll rush right over during the lunch hour to get that for you."

The cynicism above basically surfaced before listening to a presentation by Angie Stone at CareerFusion in January. She delivered a smart talk about putting together a simple one-page proposal that improves the hygiene department's efficiency. Keep it simple and easily digestible. There are really simple solutions for pulling off miracles, unless, of course, the employer is actually a Neanderthal.

Maybe the inspirational gem will come from the exhibitor. Of all the workers who strive to make your weekend of fulfilling CE obligations semi-pleasant, the exhibitor makes the largest investment of time and money. He or she doesn't mind working the weekend. There's an outside shot that a conversation with you will lead to a purchase.

Go ahead. Ask for the samples. Ask the questions where the logical answer is that they'll give the doctor a free, lifetime supply of a product. Ask them if they have any roasted garlic hummus. It's all part of the dance of negotiation.

Balance the aggravation of relicensure with a good deed. Take a few minutes to visit with an exhibitor during a dental conference this year.

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