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Jane Weiner, RDH

Nov. 1, 2002
What would it be like if you had to retake your National Boards all over again after years of practicing dental hygiene? A daunting prospect to say the least.

What would it be like if you had to retake your National Boards all over again after years of practicing dental hygiene? A daunting prospect to say the least. But Jane Weiner, RDH, has made it a labor of love for those hygienists who need to do just that, as well as anyone else who is just interested in "brushing up" their didactic information.

Jane is originally from Connecticut, has lived in Massachusetts and now resides in Tamarac, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. She graduated from the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists in 1964, when Forsyth was affiliated with Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Jane has worked chairside since then, and is also an adjunct faculty member of NOVA SE College of Dental Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a position she has held since 1998. At NOVA, she instructs dental students in the pre-doctoral periodontal clinic program.

This busy lady even has time to be one of the consulting editors and authors for home study programs by Health Studies Institute in Fort Lauderdale. Jane has been married to Marty for 31 years, and they have an adult daughter and son. Incidentally Marty, a jeweler, has created a line of dental hygiene jewelry.

Going "professional"

When Jane moved to Florida in 1979, she needed to retake her national boards to obtain her Florida dental hygiene license. To prepare for this she went back to hygiene school at Miami Dade Community College for nine months. When she finished and passed the boards, the college began sending her students — hygienists who were in similar situations — to help them prepare them for their boards. At first, Jane did this at no charge and worked from her own notes. But then as more students became interested, and another school wanted her to do this for their own students, she knew she couldn't continue just out of her own home, and decided to make it a "real" professional course.

She decided to open the program to practicing hygienists as well as students and foreign-trained dentists who needed to take the national boards. Over the years, many hygienists have taken the program to prepare for board retakes as well as for an overall educational experience. The Broward County Dental Hygiene Association also asked her to present a continuing education program on Florida's rules and regulations, and this now has become a bi-annual event. In addition, this September, she was scheduled to give a program on "Pharmacology and the Dental Hygienist." Many hygienists and other dental hygiene organizations have heard about her programs by word of mouth and through RDH magazine.

Jane loves to see course participants leave the program with the confidence that they can achieve anything they set their sights on.

"If you have confidence in yourself, then you can instill confidence in others and be the best at what you do," she says.

Jane enjoys helping people with subjects that they have been away from for a long time, or to see something in a new light. She also enjoys helping her students reach their highest confidence level. The thing she finds most difficult about presenting programs out-of-town is being away from Marty, as she has had to be over the past several years.

Calm within the storm

Jane recounts that the funniest moment during her speaking engagements happened in Atlanta, Ga., during an ice storm. The entire city, including the hotel where the presentation was taking place, had lost electricity. This occurred on the last day of a three-day program, so she knew she had to finish the course. Jane taught the program in the hotel atrium where they had light from its overhead window. The hotel was freezing cold, with the students and instructors huddled in gloves, winter jackets, and blankets. But they all stuck it out and completed the program. As luck would have it, the electricity came on just as they finished the last sentence of the last subject — an eventful meeting to say the least.

Jane admits that even though she has been practicing for more than 35 years, the thing that excites her about dental hygiene is the fact that it is an ever-changing profession. Each new innovation brings about something better for our patients and us. Jane acknowledges that the diversity of patients from all walks of life is another exciting component of her work, as well as the many dental hygiene professionals whom she has met during her presentations. Another regular RDH contributor — Cathy Alty, RDH — calls Jane a "people collector."

However, several issues concern her about dental hygiene. As many others in the profession feel, Jane is opposed to preceptorship. She sometimes stands on a soapbox about this; she says that hygienists need "both extensive didactic and clinical education, not just training from a dentist, with few didactic hours!" As an educator, she is concerned with the ergonomic issues that plague many practicing hygienists. She is constantly striving to prevent her students from developing "bad habits" that could jeopardize their practice lives.

Also, Jane feels strongly about membership in the American Dental Hygienists' Association. She challenges all who read this article to consider being a member if you are not already. "We are the educators of the public in dental health issues, and by not belonging to the ADHA it shows a level of apathy to the need for a professional organization," says Jane. "Without this type of professional organization, we can see this as a death certificate to the dental hygiene profession and the public's dental health education."

On a more personal level, Jane loves Italian food and hot fudge sundaes! Marty and Jane love to visit one of their favorite restaurants, the Sheffield Room at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. "It is elegant in its simplicity and the food is absolutely delicious!" Jane says. She recently read "Small Miracles" by Yitta Halberstam and "Love, Greg and Lauren" by Greg Manning. The latter is a heart-wrenching account of a husband's view of the survival and recuperative process of his wife, who was caught up in a fireball at the WTC on September 11, 2001.

On a lighter note, Jane goes to a lot of movies, which is a great way to spend a hot, humid Sunday afternoon in Florida. She has especially enjoyed "Pearl Harbor" and is always a sucker for "An Affair to Remember!" Semi-classical and show tune music can be found around her home, and while in Chicago recently (at RDH magazine's Under One Roof conference) she and Marty took in "Moving Out," a pre-Broadway musical set to Billy Joel music with awesome choreography. Her hobbies include playing the piano and, when she has the chance, reading.

Charming bell collection

Jane's most extensive hobby is her prized bell collection. Jane tries to collect bells from every city she visits, and finds that each has a special charm and sound. Her bell collection is one of her passions in life. It actually began when she was an infant and a friend of her mother's presented her with a gift of a sterling silver bell. She has them displayed in a china curio that Marty gave her. Jane even has bells that belonged to a late first cousin, whom she was unaware also had a passion for bells.

One thing that Jane treasures is the love of family. She is an only child and her parents came from close-knit families. Family is very important to her and she feels that "without a close family we are really nothing." Jane and Marty have instilled this sense of closeness in their two children. Their daughter is an occupational therapist in Manhattan, NY; and their son is a band and concert promoter in Tallahassee, Fla. However, despite this closeness, she disagrees that children or spouses should be a "favorite or one's most important possessions." "We cannot own family," Jane says. "We are just a part of it and if there is a strong family bond, then we are lucky enough to reap its benefits."

In considering conversationalists, Jane says she would have loved to talked with Golda Meir. Golda always has impressed Jane with her insight into human nature, her fairness and her lack of political games. She seemed earnest and sincere and was truly a peacemaker, in Jane's opinion. Golda's stature and brightness always have had an impact on Jane. Jane feels that somehow she has learned a lot about human awareness from observing her.

If Jane were not a hygienist, she would probably still be in the health care professions, but as a periodontist or full-time educator. Jane describes herself as a perfectionist who is a caring and a giving person. And we have seen that she is certainly all of that and more.

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Jane Weiner's upcoming presentations are:
• Florida Rules and Regulations, Dec. in Plantation, Fla.
• National Board Review Session, Jan. 10-12, Seattle, Wash.
• National Board Review, Jan. 18-19, Boston, Mass.
To contact Jane Weiner, visit the Web site or send e-mail to [email protected].

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS is a practicing hygienist in a periodontal-implant practice.She is a graduate of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists, is active in the Massachusetts Dental Hygienists' Association, and is a Fellow of the Association of Dental Implant Auxilliaries and Practice Management.Ann-Marie has written articles and presents programs on dental implants, TMD, and developmental delays and can be reached at [email protected].