Where are you at 3 a.m.?

Feb. 1, 2011
I have been accused of spending my life online. It is not uncommon for me to send an e-mail or comment on Facebook at 3 a.m.

by Lory Laughter, RDH, BS
[email protected]

I have been accused of spending my life online. It is not uncommon for me to send an e-mail or comment on Facebook at 3 a.m. My computer area has pull-out arms on the desk for eating, a soft chair for the occasional snoozing, and even a foot-massaging stool for those long nights writing. The TV in my bedroom is turned to face my office so I can watch the football games while adjusting my fantasy lineups. Some people assume time spent looking at the monitor is wasted hours, but I argue that not spending time browsing resources online can be limiting to your life, practice, and career.

The sources for dental professionals are nearly limitless online. It is important to check references and Google authors to verify credentials. In fact, a good place to start your Internet search is to Google yourself. It is important to know what information exists in cyberspace with your name and/or image attached. While you may think you have taken every precaution to protect your identity when browsing the Web, surprise may be just around the corner.

If you have left a comment on a shopping site, your name may appear in a Google search. Likewise, searching for classmates and friends may embed your name in the site, allowing it to turn up on a search. If your telephone number has ever been published, if your address has even been in a directory, or if your kids signed up for a gaming newsletter (with your name because they are not 18), a Google search may return results. Facebook, Myspace, and business linking sites all have the possibility of sharing your identity for an online search.

Why is it important to Google your name? If you can see the information, so can any potential employer, business associate, blind date, or potential spouse. It is public knowledge once it is on the Web.

When a colleague or student asks me about expanding into corporate or teaching positions in dental hygiene, the first thing I recommend is a Google search. The second recommendation is to clean up your social networking pages. Remember, if you post it, they can read it.

There are many places in www.land to find resources for clinical practice. Colgate-Palmolive has even placed an entire textbook online for downloading. Simply enter www.colgateprofessional.com/colgateoralsystemic into your browser and download your own copy of Periodontal Disease and Overall Health: A Clinician's Guide. A text of this size (over 300 pages) would have cost most of a day's pay in my university days, and now it can be enjoyed, studied, and digested by anyone with Internet access and the desire to be informed.

The ADHA has health-related information online accessible to everyone. By directing your patients to www.adha.org/oralhealth/index.html, they can download fact sheets on everything from proper brushing to diabetes. These are also great resources to download and have available in your office, although sending patients to the site is a great way to promote the profession and let the public know more about the role of dental hygiene in health care.

The Web also provides countless networking opportunities geared toward the RDH. PennWell provides an excellent community for dental professionals to locate resources, share information and concerns, participate in polls and webcasts, and blog to your heart's content. When visiting www.dentistryiq.com, click on "Dental Hygiene" along the upper banner. There you can view featured articles from RDH magazine and access the Hygiene Resource Center.

Whether you are looking for patient education material, career development, or networking opportunities, there is a place on the Web for you. It is not necessary to eat meals at the monitor or even install the foot massager, but if you find yourself riveted to a particularly good blog or site at 3 a.m., jump on over to Facebook and give me a shout.

Lory Laughter, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics.

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