ADHA career workshop

March 5, 2012
Hygienist sells jewelry to attend ADHA's career workshop, which was titled, "Dental Hygiene in a Changing World: Leading & Developing Your Career."

By Amy Harris Stessman, RDH, BS

I was able to make it to Chicago to attend late February workshop hosted by the American Dental Hygienists' Association: Dental Hygiene in a Changing World: Leading & Developing Your Career. The money was tight, but I sold my gold jewelry that has been sitting in my jewelry box for 25 to 30 years and sold enough to pay for the trip, thank goodness!

I really enjoyed the workshop and left it with a rush of new energy that I hope will continue for a while. The six panelists were great, answering pre-arranged questions, as well as giving a little background on how they came into their current positions outside of clinical hygiene.

When registering, we had to pick one table discussion area to be assigned to for the entire day. The options were education, public health, corporate, administration, research and new dental hygienists. Each table had a moderator. I wanted to pick three tables (corporate, administration, and public health), but ended up choosing administration. My table's moderator was Karen Dunn Caspers, CAE, who is the administration and human resources development director at ADHA. She is a very nice lady who has worked for ADHA for over 30 years.

The opening session, "Staying Relevant in a Changing Profession," was given by Marsha Rhea, CAE. She was commissioned by ADHA to do an environmental scan to help members explore the future of oral health and the changes dental hygienists must make, as well as helping ADHA make strategic decisions about the association's priorities, programs, and services.

The dental hygienists who attended the workshop came from various areas of the country. It was great, there was not enough time to network with everyone at the tables. But what the workshop did give me is possibly a new push to stay in hygiene and try to create another pathway in my career in the near future.

One table had eight dental hygienists who were not members of ADHA. But about halfway through the workshop, they realized how important membership is, as well as what the organization does. They decided to become members that day! Awesome!

I was laid off of my job 2 1/2 years ago and haven't worked since, mainly due to huge life changes (divorce, selling home, death in the family, my beloved beagle passed away, had a family member who was ill and needed help, as well as preparing for my move to Phoenix to be closer to family after the divorce to name, just to name a few). I know the job market in Phoenix for clinical hygiene is difficult, and I know I am going to have an uphill battle. But, hopefully, the energy from this workshop will carry me through the hard times in finding a job in a few months.

I wish all of you could have been there!