Nov. 23, 2010
Kristine Hodsdon, director of RDH eVillage, wants to stop squabbling about mid-level providers and just meet the patients where they are.

I've never really had to think about how I was going to get to a medical or dental appointment. Yet, people everyday struggle with the “how” to get to a dental office.

Mobile school-based programs “meet the children” where they are. The licensed providers (either dental hygienists or dentists) provide the same quality of care at the schools or within school-based programs as they provide in private dental offices. I bring this up, because as dental and dental hygiene professionals, my wish is that we transform the “mid-level provider” discussion to focus on “meeting the patients where they are.”

As we protest and align with various camps over the certainty or doubts regarding mid-level providers in oral health care (see the “Alaska's Dental Health Aide Therapists” section for a balance of perspectives), the problem alluded to above remains: The traditional dental model disconnects us from those who need our expertise and services, our patients and potential patients.

I offer that we shift our thinking and embrace the pragmatism that we should not expect an uphill climb from our patients to reach/connect with us; we should have more successes in reaching/connecting with them.

Positive solutions for the underserved are not always about what professionals or associations want to do, want to talk about, or what they think should happen. It’s about meeting the patient where they are, with what matters to them.

In the underserved communities, there is the ambition for all oral health providers to serve, yet be financially viable. Let’s start with the end in mind. We should start looking at answers that connect us with the underserved, and expect the totality of these solutions to include all of us. Let’s stop being professionally selfish, and start embracing how we meet the patients where they are and where their lives are.

Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, BS
Director, eVillage