New day, new dawn, 2012

Jan. 1, 2012
I have written on the topic of walking backwards in the past, but in honor of the New Year with all its challenge and potential, I would like to revisit it.

by Eileen Morrissey, RDH, MS
[email protected]

I have written on the topic of walking backwards in the past, but in honor of the New Year with all its challenge and potential, I would like to revisit it.

Weather permitting and sufficient light available, taking a walk/jog down a country road near my house is one way I work out. It’s a 30-minute event, and at the halfway point, I reverse my direction and walk backward for at least fifteen minutes. I remain on the “correct” side of the road for pedestrians, facing traffic, but heading the opposite way. I have been doing this for years, and I am adept at it. The road is quiet, with an occasional car passing by and few houses. Mostly I am in the heart of nature amidst trees and cornfields and the beautiful seasonal sky, which, as I’m writing, is in the height of autumnal grandeur.

I walk backward to make use of untraditional muscles, as well as to delight the occasional passerby. It nearly always gets a smile or at least, a look of confusion. However, the primary reason that I engage in this activity is because it affords me a unique perspective on problem solving.

If you have been exposed to mind/body/spiritual philosophy, putting oneself in an altogether different physical realm has the potential to change how one views a problem. In a nutshell, we may approach the challenge with a completely different viewpoint.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have had something pressing on my mind, and after a backward walk, I come up with a solution. Amazing!

We often hear of the value of thinking outside the box. How many of us really do that? In your dental hygiene world, what are you doing to shake things up? How are you walking backward as you provide dental hygiene treatment?

My literal take: Using clinical patient care as an example, here’s my occasional, intentional shake-up at my office. Woohoo! On random patients I will polish first, before traditional scaling. I follow with hand instrumentation, and then the ultrasonic. (These two steps may be reversed if the patient has heavy calculus). Flossing takes place prior to the last scaling step, be that ultrasonic, or hand.

Say what? All this is the antithesis of protocol I teach in BCC Clinic. There is a researched rationale here. It enables me to see first exactly what I’m up against once the biofilm mask is removed. (Now I can get down to brass tacks and do what needs to be done.)

At endpoint, I like the flushing afforded by the lavage from the ultrasonic as closure, and nobody is complaining. I know it sounds crazy, but occasionally choosing this off-the-beaten path protocol alleviates boredom. After so many years of following the traditional ultrasonic, hand scale, polish, then floss, I am absolutely ecstatic that I have completed the patient when I put down the ultrasonic. A silly little thing that makes this hygienist smile! P.S. Good work was achieved in the process!

Warning: RDH creatures of habit may feel nervous when they first break protocol, but I urge you to go for it. After your initial unrest, plan on a feeling of total exhilaration. The recommendation is to change your routine when/if the spirit moves you. Nothing is carved in stone.

It’s a new day, a new dawn, a new year, this 2012. Wayne Dyer tells us “Change your attitude, change your world.” I am pressing myself with how I can be a better clinician, teacher, writer, and lecturer this year. How am I going to kick myself in the butt (I fall down when I try) so that I walk my talk?

For RDH readers, how are you planning to move forward by walking backward or venturing off on the beaten path in 2012? Onward we go; it’s in our hearts’ core.

Eileen Morrissey, RDH, MS, is a practicing clinician, speaker, and writer. She is an adjunct dental hygiene faculty member at Burlington County College. Eileen offers CE forums to doctors, hygienists, and their teams. Reach her at [email protected] or 609-259-8008. Visit her website at

More RDH Articles
Past RDH Issues