President s Address
Jeanne Huber, ODHA President
Today, the crocuses are poised under the frozen ground awaiting the new beginning of another spring. At the same time, ODHA looks to a fresh beginning with a new president s efforts to preserve and advance the profession of dental hygiene, as she has sworn to do. I have begun this new year with delivery of the promised brochure promoting our profession, but the greatest challenge we face this year may be on the more individual level of how to preserve and advance our own personal employment.
Even prior to the current economic downturn there was considerable discussion of a difficult job market for hygienists across the state. New classes of grads from the past two years and some experienced hygienists, have had to take non-hygiene positions to pay their bills. Many of us, who have jobs, have seen our offices slow down and have had our hours and days cut. Things have gotten worse and it may be some time before they seem right again.
As our organization continues to address the issues of Access to care in Ohio, I am more convinced than ever that there aren t too many hygienists, but rather, too few settings where they are permitted to work. The market is not saturated until all Ohio residents oral healthcare needs are met and statistics bear that proof. The demand for care is everywhere but restrictions are too confining. Ironically employment remains a struggle for many.
The old standbys in slow periods have always been to revisit the Recall system and to schedule everyone on the waiting list. Then there was update the radiographs, and check perio charts and treatment plans for the less obvious work yet to be done. But these are not ordinary slow times. Any treatment perceived as essential is a hard sell. What if it still isn t enough to maintain the desired hours of employment
Insuring that we can keep our jobs requires presenting the real value of what we can do for our patients as well as for our employers. Our patients may appreciate more than ever any giveaways and added value that can be built into each appointment. Coupons and rebates can help. Patients who have had an exam in less than the last seven months may opt for the general supervision no exam prophylaxis and assessment instead of not coming at all. The value of personalized instruction to maintain good oral health and to prevent costly restoration should be more obvious to loyal patients than ever. There may be more time in the schedule to spend on nutrition counseling and tobacco cessation information, a definite budget advantage.
Periodically we each need to step back and take inventory of our marketable skills to see how we would fare in a competitive job search. Strengthening basic skills and incorporating new ones is always a good investment. Of course if the means are available, taking a local anesthetic course is the best new skill for the future. We need to consider which duties a current or prospective employer especially values. I have never known a dentist who didn t appreciate great basics like a well-taken full series or panoramic film. Any down time could be spent improving traditional skills by reviewing new products and techniques for charting, radiographs, root planning, fluoride and sealants. Our professional magazines are full of the most current concepts. There are many free CE courses available on line and from suppliers. There is no excuse to become a dinosaur!
Versatility is another way of confronting a tight job market. Computer skills have been a plus for doing administrative tasks, ordering supplies or filling in front desk positions in a pinch. Those who have AQP or EFDA know by now that they must be registered with the Ohio State Dental Board, biennially. If you have this valuable qualification do not allow it to get away from you! Refresher courses for those who have EFDA have finally begun to appear and I believe more will be available. While it is not necessarily a popular opinion, I would like to see all hygienists have the EFDA qualification. It would afford hygienists the greatest professional versatility and preparedness especially if any new duties should be delegated to them.
Knowledge of public health dentistry is also great preparation for the future. Three free CE courses are currently available at the www.ohiodentalclinics.com
website. They include oral healthcare for young children, financial management of safety net dental clinics, and clinic operations.
Most of all I invite you all to stay connected to your colleagues! Continue visiting the ODHA website www.odha.net
and the Career Center/Jobs
link available there. Register for Total Development Weekend for a wonderful networking and CE opportunity. Join our all
Ohio RDH Facebook group where all members and non-members are Welcome! Invite all of your hygiene friends there for discussions about employment and other professional issues. Times may be tough but so are hygienists! You don t have to face employment issues alone; meet the challenges of preserving and advancing your career with the support of an expanding path of facts and friends.
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