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Jan. 15, 2010
RDH magazine columnist Ann-Marie DePalma profiles the annual CareerFusion conference.

by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH
[email protected]

Can you imagine yourself as a speaker, writer, or sales rep? Are you looking to expand your potential in oral health care? CareerFusion may be the ticket for you. CareerFusion is the collaborative effort of Beth Thompson, RDH, BS, FACE, MFT, Patti DiGangi, RDH, BS, and Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, BSDH.

CareerFusion is a yearlong membership that culminates in a winter retreat in Daytona Beach. Participants attend CareerFusion to encourage personal growth and a fast track to accomplishments in their professional lives. The Fusionistas and Fusionistos (as participants are called) give and receive support to one another.

CareerFusion is open to any health-care professionals in search of something more in their professional lives. Consultants and front office professionals have taken part in the stepping-stones to success the program offers. Each person who attends CareerFusion discovers doors to opportunities to their own future that occur through a yearlong process of activities and coaching. The goals of CareerFusion are to provide attendees with opportunities that suit their talents, wants, and needs. These opportunities include gaining information to build their own businesses, finding part-time jobs outside their normal position, or working with corporations.

CareerFusion brings companies together with motivated people who are interested in entering the dental sales force. Each of the coordinators of CareerFusion brings her own experiences and knowledge to the program. Beth Thompson has been involved in dental sales for decades, working with products and companies such as GelKam and Philips Sonicare. Beth has experienced the ebbs and flows in dental sales and saw a need for streamlining the mentoring/hiring process. Companies often turned to her to find qualified applicants, from CEO to trade show booth help.

Patti DiGangi is a master at finding doors to open. Her experiences in a forward- thinking dental office at the beginning of her career inspired her to purchase her own voice-activated periodontal charting system. She leased it back to the office, and thus began a career that enabled her to bring a different aspect to her hygiene coaching than most hygienists experience.

Shirley Gutkowski brings her computer teaching skills to participants. Jobs outside of clinical dental hygiene call for computer skills that don’t center on the on/off switch. Attendees learn how to navigate computer programs in Microsoft Office such as Word and PowerPoint. Mac users are accommodated by exercises in Macspeak.
Beth, Patti, and Shirley have forged collaborative relationships with some of the leading dental and dental hygiene corporations who seek voices and advocates for their products. A variety of opportunities await those who are eager to engage in the challenges of the program.

Fusionistas and Fusionistos can present webinars sponsored by CareerFusion’s corporate partners throughout the year to highlight their talent and their partners’ products or ideas. These webinars are free to anyone who wants to learn more about a product or idea, and are advertised on, Facebook, the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics e-mail community, and in opt-in e-mail blasts. If a webinar participant wants to receive CE credit, there is a yearly fee for up to 12 webinars. CareerFusion offers over 20 CE credits for those who attend the Daytona session.

A variety of dental corporations turn to CareerFusion for available positions or just to understand how to improve their products. Media contacts are also involved to assist participants in learning about various aspects of writing, the editorial process, and steps in writing a book or article. Hygienists who want to practice clinically at a higher level can also participate.

A typical day at CareerFusion might include learning the latest Microsoft Office applications, working in focus groups, attending sessions on personal reflection, or attending classes in writing proposals for changing protocols. Participants who are in CareerFusion for two years are eligible to submit a proposal to teach their own classes.
In an effort to support the total professional package, attendees can have their professional photo taken. For clinicians, the motivation of the monthly courses after the Florida program helps keep the excitement in clinical practice. Corporate partners include Dental R.A.T., GC America, American Eagle, Orascoptic, NovaMin, OraTec, Eaglesoft, SmileReminder, Springstone Patient Financing, Bent Ericksen & Associates,, Patterson Dental, PennWell Corporation, and Dental Tribune. Fran Pangakis, RDH, Debra Grant, RDH, CA, and Angie Stone, RDH, BS, round out the CareerFusion educational team with additional management and hygiene perspectives.

Statistics from previous programs show 88% of participants found the program met or exceeded their expectations, 84% valued its effects on their business planning, 78% have published materials since attending, and 100% found it extremely helpful in their careers. It has opened doors for its participants.

The CareerFusion team develops the potential to enhance, learn, explore, and enjoy in all who participate. Dentistry and dental hygiene offer a wide variety of opportunities beyond the traditional “drill and fill” and “tooth picking services.” CareerFusion offers the opportunity to discover hidden talents and infuse your career with a new attitude and sense of purpose, where information is taught not only for today but for the future.

For more information on CareerFusion, go to

About the Author

Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene, and a member of ADHA and other professional associations. Ann-Marie presents continuing-education programs for hygienists and dental team members and has written numerous articles on a variety of topics. She can be reached at [email protected].