I`m sure you knew you were going to get a lot of responses from the article titled, "Why the `team` benefits us" (January 2000). I am in total support of the "team" approach. If I have a cancellation, or a few minutes in between patients, I will help my fellow team members. I will remove sutures, clean and sterilize instruments, file charts, etc. But I certainly draw the line in having a dental assistant polish for my patient. It is not only unproductive, but scary! If you want to be efficient, hire a hygiene assistant. She can help you develop radiographs, chart probings, sterilize instruments, and clean up your operatory.
No one can take the place of a licensed, registered dental hygienist who had to endure boards, difficult classes, and a lot of time in order to do what he or she does.
To Janet Culver, I am not quick to judge anyone, but your article was very upsetting. I take pride in the quality of services I provide. My motto is, "The patient comes first." To have a barely trained assistant perform services such as polishing or sealants is certainly not the way I would like to be treated. Is this putting the patients first? If more hygienists think like you, maybe we have become our own worst enemy! If a person harbors arrogance towards an assistant, she must not be a very competent hygienist, or human being for that matter. If we treat other team members with respect, they will respect us in return. You get back from the world what you put out into the world. Dental assistants don`t need to provide our services in order to earn our respect. We can all work together as a "team" in other ways to be an effective team provider.
Maria Panopoulos, RDH
Carol Stream, Illinois
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