Director's Message: Dead Hygienist Walking

Feb. 24, 2006
An encounter with a passionate hygienist leads to the concern that too many of us are without the passion we once had.

During last month's Yankee Dental Congress, I had an opportunity to visit with my friend and colleague Vicki McManis. Vicki's name is probably very familiar with many readers because you may have attended one of her energetic lectures, read one of her inspiring articles, or most recently, remembered the name because her company, New Attitude Clothing, www.luxurylabcoats, supplied the beautifully designed lab coat for RDH magazine's January 2006 cover model.

After we had a chance to catch up on life, love, and hygiene, we began to stroll back to the exhibit hall. That's when we met Sandi D'Auria. Sandi graduated from Fones School of Dental Hygiene in 1967. For those too lazy to do the math, she has been practicing for 39 years.

After Vicki and I spent some time with Sandi and her husband, it became apparent to me that Sandi is still very passionate about dental hygiene — you know, the kind of passion that oozes out of one's pores and is contagious. I found myself mesmerized by her positive outlook on the future of hygiene, and I began to believe that every one of Sandi's patients flosses regularly, never misses an appointment, and always follows her diagnosis and treatment plan. After all, why wouldn't they? She shines.

What I have a hard time understanding is why we are not all like Sandi. As I walked through the convention hall and stopped to speak with classmates and colleagues, I realized that many hygienists have lost the passion they once had. Dead Hygienist Walking became the theme for the rest of the convention day.

Why do so many hygienists turn into mummies? Many of these "fallen" hygienists have as much emotion for their patients and dental hygiene as the zombies in Dawn of the Dead. Am I to assume that more dental offices than not resemble Hell? And that there is no more room for these mummified zombie-hygienists in the clinical world so that they only congregate at dental meetings and conventions? OK, don't get your linen bandages in a bind — not all hygienists are tortured soles living a dental nightmare, and of course, (tongue-in-cheek) they are never the readers of RDH eVillage.

So, to easily determine which side you are on, I invite you to take the "Alive Inside" test. Look in a mirror and ask yourself:

Am I a zombie-hygienist?

Only you honestly know the answer. Mrs. Donovan's mwa-mwa-mwa voice will not reprimand. If the answer is no, then pat yourself on the back. Say a few affirming phrases to that passionate hygienist in the mirror. Use your own or feel free to borrow from the following:

"I am proud of my professional choice!"
"My services can save lives."
"I trust myself and my patients trust me."
"I believe in my abilities to support my patients' oral health."

If, the answer is yes, ask yourself why? Do you need to begin to socialize with hygienists who have more zeal and who may be able to lift you up? Do you need to sign up for a new continuing-education experience; i.e., RDH Under One Roof? Do you think becoming involved with your local component would supply you with the support you may need? Do you need to begin to transition out of hygiene and into a professional field that you can feel fiery about?

As I travel to hygiene programs and conventions this year, I will be on the lookout for more Sandis. I would love to feature you/them in the RDH eVillage newsletter. If you know of a "Sandi," send along her name and contact information. If you see me at a show, stop me so we can honor your passion and respect for the hygiene profession.

Speaking of ways to regain some zest for hygiene, congratulations to Karen Kopstein, RDH, BS, who was the January Click-It Trivia Winner. She won a $200 gift card to Tiffany's. Please click on Click-it Trivia to enter this month's drawing.

New in RDH eVillage:

Research Briefs: Each month I will review one to two research summaries of the latest in dental hygiene-related research. A few minutes each month can help fight off the homums.

ADHA Corner: Knowledge is power. So, whether you are an ADHA member or a potential member, being fully aware of the steadfast achievements of our professional organization for us will continue to fuel your passion tank.

Thanks again for reading,

Warm regards,
Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage