Give input from the porch

Dental manufacturers will develop an itch. They wake up one morning and can't resist the overwhelming urge to crowd a bunch of dentists or dental hygienists into a conference room...

By Mark Hartley

Dental manufacturers will develop an itch. They wake up one morning and can't resist the overwhelming urge to crowd a bunch of dentists or dental hygienists into a conference room and ask, "Tell us, oh please tell us, what is on your mind?" I can imagine how unnerving such polling might be. Perhaps, at such questioning, you're under pressure to say something other than what you were really thinking: "I was wondering what to do about dinner. There's a play rehearsal and a football practice that has to be sandwiched around the meal. Know what I mean?" It's not an easy thing to switch into self-reflection when somebody expects you to start babbling about the meaning of life, or that secondary topic — life in dentistry.

In varying degrees, work becomes instinctive for most of us — not a lot of room for philosophizing. As I write this, one of my dogs is undergoing surgery. I have to write this article now in order to meet a deadline. So I'm in no state of mind to kick back and muse on what it means to be an editor in an era where it's probably a good idea to stop cutting down so many trees for paper, and Web sites are a perfect way to get around that little environmental problem. Nah, the thought of the day is: "Is Stella (the dog) all right?"

Maybe when the sun is setting peacefully, we can sink into the tempting proposition offered by the rocking chair on the porch and pause to reflect on our careers.

RDH gets the aforementioned itch too. May I mention a couple of advantages about our plea to tell us what is on your mind (pages 25-26)? You don't have to complete the survey right this instant, and it doesn't have to be filled out in a conference room. The rocking chair on the porch works for me.

Christine Hovliaras-Delozier, RDH, MBA, is the face behind Professional Savvy, the co-sponsor of the "Career Assessment Survey." She is the firm's president. Professional Savvy works with various companies on professional marketing efforts, clinical research initiatives, and continuing education symposiums.The firm's other business goal is to develop career strategies and resources for dental hygienists to find their ideal position within the profession. Christine was a board member for RDH from 1996 to 2000, recently renewing that affiliation after taking some time off for her child. Some older readers might remember Christine as the magazine's cover model in November 1992. Regina Dreyer Thomas, RDH, had written an article about Christine's career in a consumer products company's research and development division. Her business career has led Christine into specializing in finding unique ways to utilize the skills offered by dental hygienists.

Professional Savvy wants to evaluate your answers and determine if there are job markets that could benefit from well-trained hygienists.

What about RDH? While we're supportive of Christine's objectives, we admittedly have a different concern. A common request for articles in the magazine falls into the realm of "get me out of clinical hygiene, like right now!" The magazine's writers are more than willing to comply with the requests. But then they tend to notice that I'm frowning. If the magazine has the title of RDH, and readers are seeking a way out of dental hygiene, should we print articles to accommodate them? The correct answer is probably "maybe."

Clinical hygiene in a general dental practice should not be regarded as the only career option for a graduate from dental hygiene school. Yes, doctor, even for a hygienist, life should be fun, interesting, challenging, etc. But, obviously, dental hygiene schools still have to meet the pressure of supply and demand for hygienists to treat patients in traditional settings.

I need help. I need to determine, with Christine's assistance, how we can approach the subject of enhancing your career. We need to do this in a way that doesn't give the impression that dental hygiene is a bad place from which everyone wants to escape. The impression that the words career alternatives should convey is that the entire world of dental hygiene is a delightful enterprise with many opportunities and challenges. So, uh, we'd like to ask you a few questions. How do you feel about your career? When the sun sets tonight, can you let us know what you think?

Mark Hartley is the editor of RDH. He can be contacted at markh@pennwell.com.

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