by Mark Hartley
Kirsten Jarvi and I ate lunch together one day at the recent RDH Under One Roof conference. She is a former recipient of the Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction (2004). The previous evening, Sunstar had hosted its annual reception for past and present recipients at a ranch just south of the Strip in Las Vegas. Kirsten was unable to attend the reunion due to a business conflict.
She filled me in on some things she has been working on in her current position as director of professional education at Interleukin Genetics.
I mentioned to her that one of the things that I enjoy about the Sunstar gatherings is catching up on what the recipients have accomplished since being honored with the award. Remember, these dental hygienists, which have included one male recipient, were already "distinctive" when the nominations were reviewed by judges.
If I have my facts straight, one has left the profession outright, working in a completely different occupation. A few others are retired now, enjoying the fruits of a job well done.
But the rest of them didn't stop being distinctive once they walked off the stage, proudly holding a plaque in front of the RDH Under One Roof audience (actually, many of them confess to being a little embarrassed by the attention focused on them). After the fanfare died down, they continued to search for ways to make preventive dentistry useful for the communities they serve, as well as for themselves. I do not get the sense that personal wealth is a factor in many of these endeavors. It remains the thrill of having a plausible idea and making it work.
I realize that this Editor's Note is probably being written 30 days too early. The September issue features the eight 2013 recipients on the cover as well in an article about them.
Much of the above could be said of the recipients of the Philips Sonicare/RDH Mentor of the Year award. The mentor award is a little different. The ceremony occurs during the ADHA annual session. If there is a reunion of the honored mentors, I am unaware of it. So several years may pass before I see a mentor again.
But, when I do, there's never the sense that the award stopped the process of trying to guide the profession by helping others on the same path. I have a feeling that mentors avoid extending a helpful hand only when we avoid them.
So it's nice to see the spotlight on these award winners, and it's pretty apparent that the aura around them never really disappears. I'll put forth the opinion that it goes beyond this group of honored dental professionals too. Not every dental hygienist can be the community's costumed tooth fairy. It might get a little creepy if all of us grabbed a wand and hit the streets. There's an army of dental hygienists out there, each one of them making a difference in the battle against oral disease.
Whether it's the treat of eating lunch with Kirsten or bumping into a former recipient, I don't think there's any question that hygiene professionals are doing wondrous things beyond basic "oral care." Keep up the good work!
(By the way, the advertisement on page 73 in this issue encourages readers to nominate a mentor for the 2014 award; the deadline for nominations is the end of October.)
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