How hygienists incorporate branding

April 8, 2014
The old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression" is essential in today's world. How do you make a good first impression when that impression is virtual or on paper?

By Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MED, FADIA, FAADH

The old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression" is essential in today's world. How do you make a good first impression when that impression is virtual or on paper? Creating your brand is critical to making yourself stand out from the crowd.

Judy Stein, RDH, has developed a program entitled "What Brand Are You?" to help dental professionals identify their personal attributes that will form their individual brands. Judy's goal is to provide a fun, creative, interactive environment where participants can develop a personalized brand. With personal coaching, participants create a business card that reflects a new personal logo. This logo and business card become the participants' complement to a resume, cover letter, website, or blog. Judy feels that the personal branding applications in the program are endless.


Other articles by DePalma


In today's hygiene world, Judy believes that hygienists must market themselves in ways that communicate and reflect their diversity of experiences. Each person needs to develop their "passion behind their actions" and communicate that passion to others in order to grow as a professional and a person.

During the workshop, participants are guided to identify and define their personal characteristics. A brand represents their core values in pictures or words that have meaning for them. Words such as lifelong learner, professionalism, fun, excellence, or family can be incorporated into a brand through adjectives, images, objects, and colors. Once these discoveries are uncovered, Judy coaches participants to take their newfound image to the next level to communicate this information. She shares encouragement and resources that allow participants to use their new logo in other areas of their lives. The world becomes easier to navigate when you know who you are, is the motto that Judy instills during the program.

Judy presents the program with her daughter, Ashley, whom she credits with sparking her interest in branding. As a public relations student, Ashley wrote a blog article, "Geek a brand, Geek yourself" that intrigued Judy and led her to investigate the personal branding process. Judy calls herself "a professional smile geek" and worked to develop her own brand. As she refined the process, she wanted to share the word with other dental professionals, especially recent dental hygiene graduates, and the course was born.

Mother and daughter present the program in PowerPoint, but with displays that eliminate paper handouts so the program remains green. The program is highly interactive with open discussions. Participants are asked to bring a laptop, tablet, or paper and colored pencils to create their logos and business cards.

Judy is a dental hygiene graduate of Kellogg Community College in Michigan and enjoys the lifelong learning opportunities that the profession offers. She is passionate about dental hygiene and volunteers in professional, community, and faith organizations. If she were not a hygienist, she says she would still be involved in a health profession in some capacity. She enjoys writing and has written articles for RDH magazine.

Judy describes herself as compassionate, eager, faithful, and dependable. When asked about what concerns her most about dental hygiene, Judy said, "As a self-professed optimist, my hope for the future of dental hygiene is for it to become more valued, acknowledged, and respected so that professional roles can become more diversified and exciting."

She envisions autonomy with collaboration and dental hygienists acknowledging their commonalities while promoting their uniqueness. Personal branding allows hygienists to begin to achieve that goal.

Having her article "Personal Branding" published in RDH magazine is one of Judy's proudest accomplishments. Having the courage to step out of her comfort zone and submit the article proposal and have it accepted has been a wonderful opportunity that has opened other doors for her, and she encourages others to "just do it." As a clinical instructor at her community college and a practicing hygienist in daily practice, she has been blessed to be a part of both students' and patients' lives through the years. If she had anything to do over again, Judy readily admits that staying in school to attain a bachelor's degree would have been a higher priority. She regularly encourages her hygiene students to further their education because she believes that education will open doors that experience alone will not.

Through the inspiration and dedication of her daughter, Judy has found a pathway to enriching others' lives, both personally and professionally. Creating a brand that displays who you are will allow growth in many ways and show the passion behind your actions.

For more information about Judy and her program, contact [email protected].

Thought for the month:
"Every spring is the only spring – a perpetual astonishment."
- Ellis Peters RDH

April's INeedCE course is "The Importance of Interprofessional Education with Regard to Drug-induced Gingival Overgrowth."

Using the code ANAPR14, readers will receive a 50% discount (the regular cost is $20, and the discount reduces it to $10).

The description of the course is:
Drug-induced gingival overgrowth (DIGO) is a relatively common side effect of anticonvulsants, calcium channel blocking agents (CCBA), and calcineurin inhibitor immunosuppressive drugs. This disfiguring and unattractive drug side effect is problematic with regard to patient drug compliance. Therapeutic approaches include oral hygiene education and assistance, adjunctive therapies such as chlorhexidine, and emerging therapeutic approaches such as folic acid (systemic and topical) and azithromycin (systemic and topical). Particularly with regard to interprofessional education, it is important for physicians and nurses to be aware and involved in these therapeutic approaches.

ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at [email protected].

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