Thank you for being a part of the Dental Hygiene Profession. Let me ask you a question. Why are you a Dental Hygienist? I think it’s because you want to make people’s lives better, you want to serve the community. Maybe it’s because you are passionate about oral health care. Well, I am too. Isn’t that why dental hygiene exists? To fill an oral healthcare need in the community?
Over 100 years ago Dr Fones saw the need for preventative oral health care. His vision was to serve patients in complete health and wellness. In 1913 the ADHA was formed. This gave credibility to the profession, created a community with a common goal, provided validity to dental hygienists everywhere and the opportunity of advocacy for change and improvement. The opportunity for dental hygienists to have one voice and one representation.
That was how our past started, but today I want to talk to you about the future. The future of the Dental Hygiene Profession. Our future. Your future. You need to be invested in your future and I am here to ask you to get involved.
Let’s talk about some areas where you can get involved. Your profession, your community, government and the association.
In your profession, you can provide the best dental hygiene care you can in your office. Do oral cancer screenings and full mouth probes on every patient. Show the value of dental hygiene and proper oral health care. Read more articles and journals. Do more CE’s than are required. Just stay informed. The more knowledgeable you are, the more valuable you are to your patients and to your peers. Be the best dental hygienist you can be!
Improve your local community. Volunteer in community centers, clinics, pediatric offices who need our help to train them to do fluoride treatments for well child visits. Volunteer in schools or non-for-profits like Sealants for Smiles where you can educate or provide preventative care for students. Volunteer where and how you can, be it your time or your services.
Learn more about your local government and the regulations affecting dental hygiene. Go to Lobby Day with us in February. Meet with our representatives to let them know that we want to be their source on oral health promotion and disease prevention. If you can’t do those, then just write your local legislator and tell them the issues you face and the opportunities you see.
You can attend meetings. Attend DOPL meetings. DOPL is the Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing. They set rules and regulations for licensing. At the DOPL meetings you can see what changes other dental professionals are asking for and how they affect you.
Attend CODA meetings. CODA is the Commission on Dental Accreditation. They accredit advanced dental education programs. They decide accreditation and approval on existing and new dental hygiene schools. Learn what criteria they consider and how we can influence and inform their decisions.
Attend UDA meetings. UDA is the Utah Dentists Association. Hygienists are welcome to attend their meetings. Get to know who controls your license and what issues they feel are important. Build relationships with these dentists and the dentists around you. Let them know that we care and support our profession.
An association is a group created to represent a larger population. The UDHA exists to represent all dental hygienists in Utah. The UDHA can act as a proxy for you in the areas mentioned above. If you are a not a member – we still want you to participate in the association! Please call us, email us, connect with us and give us your feedback. Stand by a UDHA representative in government meetings or in the community. We want your voice to be heard. Member or not, you can still be active in the association. There are many opportunities big and small.
If you are a member, I want to thank you. Being a member helps support our efforts to represent dental hygienists and guides us to accomplish want you want. I am a member because I am passionate about serving the public and believe we can make a difference.
Why am I involved now? What do I want from the coming year for the dental hygiene profession in Utah? To change perception. We are not just a bunch of individuals with a skill. We are a community of professionals. I want to see us stand together. To have more clout at government meetings, with business and healthcare providers. I want to see our dental hygiene community pull together to use the power of many to increase our voice to affect change for your future. That is what I want.
What’s more important is what you want! What is it that you want? What do you need? What issues do you face? I hear one all the time… the market is flooded. There are not enough work and too many hygienists in Utah. It does feel that way. I know what you are talking about, but let me ask you a question.
Think about your office or where you work. Think about your community and your schools. Think about your city. Think about the entire state of Utah. When you consider that population, is every oral healthcare need being met? I don’t think so. In fact, I know that these needs are not being met. I’ve been in those communities and I’ve been in those schools. I’ve seen first-hand how much need is out there. If we were meeting all of these needs, I suspect that every hygienist you know would have more work than they could handle.
What we really need is access to care, avenues to deliver that care and our community support. Educate and create awareness. Provide knowledge to businesses, communities, healthcare providers and the government. The only way to make it better is to get involved!
Get involved in the profession by providing quality care and spreading passion about dental hygiene. In the community, volunteer and create awareness and provide education. In the government, educate and advocate. Adjust the rules to enable or improve access. In the association, be part of a solid dental hygiene community with one voice for improvement. Together we can show that Utah Dental Hygienists are capable, ready and willing to serve and push for change.
I don’t have all the answers, but I know why we’re all here. Why? To serve the community and improve oral health care. How? By getting involved. And who? That’s you.
I am grateful for the choices you have made to be part of this profession. As a representative of the UDHA, I remind you today that you are invested, so get involved!
Michaele GreenUDHA President