Director's Message: Support what supports you

Oct. 24, 2012
October 2012 is the beginning of a yearlong celebration of 100 years of the dental hygiene profession. I encourage every current and prospective dental hygienist to take this time to recalibrate.

October 2012 is the beginning of a yearlong celebration of 100 years of the dental hygiene profession. I encourage every current and prospective dental hygienist to take this time to recalibrate. For me, recalibrating is an opportunity to bring about a consciousness. A consciousness of how we as individual professionals and as a community of dental hygienists are supporting what supports us.

I usually use a farming metaphor in my Director’s Message and today will be no different. Each of us is a farmer, planting seeds for a harvest yet to come. We do this work actively or passively, but either way, we have a tremendous influence and impact on what will show up for ourselves and our profession. What we cultivate along our personal and professional lives flourishes; if you want something to grow, it has to be tended to.

I often think about the Internet and its amazing ability to build relationships, businesses, and share information. There is so much information readily accessible. What is sometimes overlooked is where the data, research, tips, surveys, career counseling, or continuing education programs comes from, or how much effort it took to make it available to us. I am discouraged when I hear someone say, “I don’t want to pay for that” or “I can get that for free, so why should I spend or provide financial support.” I think this example relates to many perspectives about membership in the American Dental Hygienists' Association.

Why? I encourage professionals to look beyond the generally relaxed mindset of “tit for tat” in regard to membership within the ADHA, meaning the thought that “Did I personally consume, or use this, resource or that benefit?” We are a community of dental hygienists. We need to make sure that we are ALL supported.

Support what supports you deals with the concept and a sense of a farmer putting a seed in the ground so it can develop into a professional “fruit” to be consumed later. If you are succeeding today, then you are leveraging the fruits of what was planted before. If we eat and manage all the resources today without supporting the entity that provided the crop, then there may be nothing left for the next 100 years of the dental hygiene profession.

I acknowledge that it is tempting not to support the ADHA. We all have competing and limited financial resources. After all, we can read a colleagues’ journal or use information on the ADHA website. We can convince ourselves that it’s “all politics,” and you “don’t need to get involved in the politics of dental hygiene.” Or, it’s enticing to think that “they are agitators” or “I don’ t need ABC member benefits; they aren’t for me.”

And, yes, can you can cash your paycheck and can get away with doing nothing. Yet, it’s my belief that we have a responsibility to the community.

If we value or appreciate our degrees, careers, profession, and our livelihoods, shouldn’t we support what’s supporting us? It’s a way of registering or being conscious of how and what we value. Consider that, if you are not putting your money towards something that you value, that supports your ability to get a job, cash your paycheck, receive insurance, protect your professional responsibilities that will nourish your career in the future, then what are you spending your paycheck or money on? If one thinks that “I am only going to pay for things or for the stuff I have to pay for,” then aren’t we empowering the things and stuff we don’t even like or that’s not supporting us?

If we care about our profession and the next 100 years, why don’t we put our money towards something that we value, appreciate, and will thrive? If our money and our resources (time and energy) are not going toward our professional sustainability then who is empowering the future of our profession?

I’ll close with revisiting the farmer metaphor. By supporting our professional association, we are planting the seeds and replenishing what we are already the benefactors of. If you are or will soon be a licensed dental hygienist, you are capitalizing on all the resources and advancements — the harvests of over 100 years of the dental hygiene profession. Even in these turbulent times, we are all successful by the mere fact that we are part of the dental hygiene profession and are dental hygienists within that community.

So consider supporting what supports you.

Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH BS
Director, RDH eVillage