Facebook page fosters dental hygiene interaction
BY LORY LAUGHTER, RDH, BS
For most people, social media elicits either a positive or negative response. One enjoys the interaction and realizes the impact social media has on career and personal life, or in the other extreme, someone can spend a lifetime attempting to live "off the grid." Like it or not, the interactions and communications we have through social media shape how we receive and share information.
It's easy to share an opinion, present a situation for input, or even share an interesting case on social media such as Facebook. The challenge comes in accepting the input and opinions of others. Interacting without the benefit of voice tone and facial expressions is challenging in the best of circumstance, and it is often disastrous among virtual strangers. Moderating such discussions takes a special skill set and patience beyond measure. Some people do it well and some exceptionally.
Kara Vavrosky, RDH, moderates one of the largest dental hygiene-focused Facebook pages, called Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH. Kara's page contains links to new items related to dentistry, as well has humorous postings and interesting cases submitted by Kara or those who follow her. I enjoy the page for its professional environment and open forum-type discussions. Kara has a way of initiating conversations toward positive interaction, and she is inclusive of all ideas and opinions.
In a typical day on Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH, one can find radiographs submitted by a colleague, a link to a timely news article involving dentistry, photos displaying lesions or unusual tissue conditions, and humorous quotes pertaining to a day in the life of an RDH. Followers discuss upcoming conferences and CE events, as well as articles from dental hygiene publications. When searching for an issue on the Internet in my column, I often visit her page for ideas about what the masses are discussing. It is a very valuable resource.
Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH declares itself, "The largest and most active dental hygiene community on Facebook," and with over 33,800 likes, the label appears accurate. There are also two websites associated with the page,1,2 where followers can find a Dental Hygiene Store.
I wanted to learn more about Kara RDH, who seemed to take over dental hygiene social media in a very short period of time, and the more I learned, the more I knew this was a story to share.
Kara graduated from the Oregon Institute of Technology at the ODS College of Dental Sciences in La Grande, Oregon, and while she says that dentistry was a natural choice, her first interest was actually nuclear medicine. As there are only 30 programs for nuclear medicine in the U.S., and entry is extremely difficult, Kara took that as a sign to return to her roots and study dental hygiene. Our profession is benefitting greatly from nuclear medicine's loss.
This may come as a surprise, given her success, but Kara was actually a late arrival on social media. Her first account was a personal Facebook page she started in 2009, and she started the professional page in August 2013. When asked why she believes her page is so popular, Kara responded, "I think a big part of the success has been my focus on creating a positive community of dental hygienists. The attention I've been getting lately has been very humbling because this page was never about me, but about the larger community as a whole."
Kara has a few long-range goals for the Facebook page. While continuing to post content to entertain and inform, it is her goal to push dental hygienists to be their personal best. She also plans to expand her website and begin offering continuing education courses. Partnerships are being developed to help RDHs discover new technologies to make their professional lives easier, and will include giveaways that allow Kara to show her appreciation for follower loyalty over the last year.
I asked Kara about her two favorite posts from her first year of moderating Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH, and to provide the links. The first is a blog addressing the blue polyethylene plastic found in some Crest toothpastes.3 The second is also one my favorites simply for the number of times it was shared and appeared on my personal newsfeed. It is a blog from GoodMouth titled "5 Things your Dental Hygienist Wishes You Knew."4
I will leave you with my favorite link from Kara's Facebook page. It addresses the diversity of oral bacteria and the fact we cannot even identify all the species found in the oral cavity.5
On your next Facebook session, find Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH and like the page. Then watch your newsfeed for interesting, educational, and humorous dental-related material presented in a positive and professional manner. It truly makes for an enjoyable web weaving session.
Websites referred to in this column
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. She can be contacted at [email protected].
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