RDH eVillage Book Club

Sept. 30, 2005
"Who Moved My Cheese" continued ... and moving yourself out into the maze.

RDH eVillage Book Club

By Susanne Kuehl, RDH

What's keeping you in the maze? There is some fascinating dialogue using the metaphor of looking for "cheese" in the thought-provoking book, Who Moved My Cheese. What if we think of the Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner as the "new cheese?" Why has the move to a four-year degree as entry level been so slow to manifest? Here's what I say: The only thing limiting the growth of the dental hygiene profession is ourselves.

Why do we keep waiting for an employer to move us out of our comfort zone?

Why do we sit in the same section of the maze waiting for the cheese to get better?

Were you more like Hem or Haw?

Did you discover any limiting beliefs that keep you stuck in the maze?

We have power. We have clout. We aren't using it. So what are we afraid of? What's holding us back? The answer lies within us, as well as our beliefs about money, finances, and driving our own destiny. Want to start a hotbed of conversation at a dental hygiene component meeting? Ask what the hourly rate in your area is … mention profit sharing ... ask how many know the business accounting information of their office ... and then ask why we aren't asking.

Next ask how many hygiene professionals have a budget and credit card to use at their discretion when attending dental meetings to purchase loupes, ultrasonic scalers, home care aids, or even the chair of their choice? Then ask how many hygienists see the eyes of an industry representative dart to their name tag and move on if it doesn't say DDS? Lastly, ask who is the one that recommends all of the preventive products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss? Ask who educates patients at great length on why implants, crowns, braces, whitening, etc., are indicated? Add that all together and it doesn't make sense.

Most hygienists' business acumen is like an atrophied muscle, weak because we don't use it that often and it's barely touched upon in our college curriculum. Discussing finances is not something many of us were raised to discuss in public much less at a staff meeting. But how a business spends its money is not the same as asking for someone's personal banking information! Your raise, your bonus, your added time off, your wish to attend courses out of state and have expenses covered, your instruments and your production all hinge on what the business produces. Do you know those numbers or are you just afraid to ask?

So back to beliefs ... do you feel you have the right to ask? It doesn't matter who the dentist hires as a consultant or if the spouse is the office manager ... what does matter is what you believe about controlling your destiny and participating as a true partner in a business. Grow personally, lean into your discomfort about money matters and your professional growth will follow. Decide for yourself to get out into the maze. Attend courses that you pay for. Go to lunch once a month with someone who is not from your office to network and brainstorm business strategies.

Remember, "It's not who you are that holds you back; it's who you think you're not." If you can't imagine in your mind's eye a future you believe in ... then you'll stay right where you are. So try to "see the new cheese" or the future in its perfect state and believe it can happen. Imagine you choose the time for your hygiene procedures, purchase the instruments of your choice and have all the home care aids you desire for your patients. Imagine that you can take a day off or juggle the schedule without the front office person flipping out. Imagine that one of your benefits is to attend cutting edge CE courses out of state without loss of pay including a per diem for meals. Imagine that you are fully knowledgeable about your office finances, invest in your own 401K along with your employer, and have a plan in place for retirement. How does the profession of dental hygiene look to you now?

This is the dialogue that each of you who are already out in the maze leading us to the Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner need to have with those who are fearful and stuck. It is always easier to stay where it's comfortable and someone else is "in charge" of what we do, how much time it takes us and what tools we use in our efforts to give quality care to our patients. So stir it up! Start the dialogue at your next meeting.
If every component group could have this dialogue with non-members imagine the shift in energy. Get out into the maze!

Susanne says: Study circles are the way to move out into the maze. Got feedback? Want to add a dialogue like this to your next meeting? Contact her at [email protected].

The next book is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It is based on ancient Toltec wisdom the Four Agreements, a powerful code of conduct to follow in everyday life.

Be Impeccable with Your Word. Speak with integrity. Do what you say and say what you mean.

Don't Take Anything Personally. What others think or say is unimportant. It is what you say about yourself that gives you value.

Don't Make Assumptions Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.

Always Do Your Best. You can always feel good about yourself if you know that you did your best.

When she isn't talking teeth, Susanne Kuehl, RDH, facilitates authentic dialogue for staff meetings, study clubs, and book groups about personal growth. Through her home-based business, Circle Connections, she shares her passion for reflection, inquiry, and dialogue with groups ready to move out of their comfort zone. She yearns to resurrect the consciousness raising groups of the 1960s using the study circle format and talk about anything other than reality shows. You can contact her at [email protected] or e-mail [email protected].