April 25, 2008
We want to wish the best for graduating dental hygiene students, plus explain what W.A.I.T. stands for.

by Kristine Hodson, RDH

Two years, four years — at this moment you're all graduating very soon. That each one of you realize and embrace your individual power is my graduation wish for you.

As you enter your chosen area of dental hygiene, whether private practice, academia, research, overseas, or wherever your passion for prevention takes you, welcome that you have control over your destiny and contributions to your patients.

Oftentimes, seasoned hygienists and even educators get stuck in the muck of "If only." "If only" the doctor I work with gave me more time for appointments. "If only" the state practice act allowed me to do XYZ. "If only" my patients would listen to me and floss. "If only" my patients would complete the recommended treatment. "If only" my teammates would do ABC. This thinking is numbing our passion for providing care and for our profession.

You can achieve all the degrees, certifications, licenses, and letters you desire after your name, yet if your self-esteem and attitude is in the toilet, you'll never have long-term career success.

Jillian Michael, the strength trainer and life coach on NBC's hit series "The Biggest Loser," writes in her latest e-newsletter, "Having the right attitude is so important because thought is behavior. The power of the mind is total — the way you think about yourself manifests as your reality. We all know how easily negative thoughts can lead to lack of confidence, hopelessness, and depression."

For your hygiene mental attitude workout, instead of complaining that you have only a certain amount of time for each hygiene service, stop yourself and rewire your attitude. Rejoice in what you can accomplish for your patient in that amount of time. Celebrate how much you can assess the patient's state of health, and then use your left-brain skills to develop treatment options that can fit into the allotted time. Think and breathe ... and move toward what's best for the patient. Learn to be fully present with that patient and capitalize on every minute you provide education or care. Focus your mind into the moment and allow yourself to let go of what you cannot change.

A tip that may support you in your goal of patient single-mindedness is to make a sign for your operatory with the letters W.A.I.T. This is for your eyes only, so place it in an area where you will see it and allow you to refocus your energy. What does W.A.I.T stand for? Why Am I Talking? When you find yourself chatting a blue streak, and your eye catches this helpful tip, it will help you be more patient-focused vs. socially-focused.

As you enter your dental hygiene career, I'm celebrating 20 years of practicing dental hygiene. Yes, I said practicing — you can have sustained passion for providing care by putting patients first and supporting their goals for their own health.

If I can provide any support, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at [email protected].

Onward and Upward,
Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage