Director's Message: Tango on ...

May 30, 2008
A click of the heels for those in unsupervised dental hygiene practice in Maine.

Why do I snicker at the reality show, "Dancing with the Stars"? For one of the all-time dramatic dance offs was in the movie Scent of a Woman with Al Pacino and Chris O'Donnell.

For readers who are unfamiliar with the movie, here's a recap. Al Pacino plays Frank Slade, a blind, eccentric retired army colonel who hires Charlie Simms (played by Chris O'Donnell), a poor college student, to take him to New York City for the Thanksgiving weekend.

The dance scene I applaud above is when Donna, a beautiful, delicate girl (Gabrielle Answar) timidly agrees to dance the tango with Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade. The conversation unfolds like this:

Frank Slade: Would you like to learn to tango, Donna?

Donna: Right now?

Frank Slade: I'm offering you my services ... free of charge. What do you say?

Donna: I think I'd be a little afraid.

Frank Slade: Of what?

Donna: Afraid of making a mistake.

Frank Slade: No mistakes in the tango, not like life. It's simple. That's what makes the tango so great. If you make a mistake, get all tangled up, just tango on.

By now, many of you are attempting to make the connection between the tango, or the movie, and dental hygiene. I appreciate your patience with my in-depth set-up. Yet first, I would like you to ask yourself, when you are afraid or are undertaking an unfamiliar task ... do you ask:

"If I make a mistake and get all tangled up, do I tango on or do I quit?"

The success of the "dance off" scene is in Slade's confidence in his own ability to tango. Regardless of his blindness, he had a steadfast vision of what the tango could be. He confidently led a shy, apprehensive girl into a graceful and rhythmic partnership in a dance. I am in awe every time I watch the scene.

That is the role of a leader. For this Director's Message, I dedicate it to the Unsupervised Dental Hygiene Dancers. To all the leaders and followers of the Maine Dental Hygienists' Association, Maine licensed dental hygienists', oral health advocates, and consumers, I am in awe of the accomplishment you achieved in being the second state to allow the unsupervised practice of dental hygiene. The only other state which allows unsupervised practice is Colorado.

This dental hygiene tango and all the steps that you had to learn and re-diagram deserve all the kudos fellow hygienists can muster.

The definition of a vision can be loosely explained as a statement that paints a picture of an individual or groups' shared future. A picture of the future they want to see, feel, and be a part of either in their personal or professional lives. A goal can be viewed as the strategies or steps that move you closer to your vision. The vision is the anchor that one hangs all the goals.

Many hygienists share the same vision of unsupervised practice and self-regulation. Being from different regions and states, our reality is that our means, resources, support networks, tempo, speed and or dance moves differ and sometimes fall short. But if along the way, we get all tangled up, we cannot be afraid to move toward our visions and follow the goals. I am proud that my colleagues to the north decided to tango on!

Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage

PS- By the time you are reading this Director's Message, I will be attending the ADHA-District 1 meeting. This is held each year before the ADHA Annual Session. Then, in person, I will have the opportunity and privilege of congratulating members of the winning hygiene team.