YOU are the ADHA! What I Learned After Divorcing Our Association

I am just like you. After attending my first ADHA Annual session meeting a few years ago in Boston I wrote down my feelings and would like to share them with you.

“Since becoming a hygienist 17 years ago.  I was a member of the American Dental Hygienists Association for almost 16 years….. and then I stopped.

While at Montgomery County Community College, at the urging of my instructors, I became a member of the ADHA as a student.  I was told that this was my professional organization and that it was important to be a member.

So for the next 14 years I became a passive member. Then something happened to my relationship with ADHA in 2012.  In 2012 I divorced ADHA for 3 months. It’s those 3 months as a non-member that I’d like to tell you about.

I’m was just like you a….. mother, wife, clinical hygienist…. with many outside responsibilities and obligations.  I was also a task performer, a clock puncher trying to change patient’s behavior while banging my head against the wall.

In July 2012  ABC television broadcasted a program on the television show, The View. On this particular day there was a segment about higher paying jobs that did not require a college degree.  The speaker erroneously stated,……without doing her research, that a hygienist is someone who learns how to use a certain instrument on a certain tooth. That’s all you need to know!  …..No college….just training.  I was actually floored when Whoopi Goldberg, a host on the program who in recent years admitted to having periodontal disease, didn’t say a word in our defense.

I found that that was a great opportunity for our association and members to come and promote dental hygienists as the healthcare professionals we are.

It just so happened that it was around this time that my renewal for membership came in the mail.  I placed it on my desk in the den and there it sat for weeks while I waited for the ADHA to do something about what was said on the program.  When nothing was done, except for writing a statement to the network  –which was never aired on the show. I decided to divorce ADHA.

It was also at this time that I was thinking about leaving the profession altogether due to an unhealthy working environment and was finding employment hard to come by.  For months I searched – only coming across jobs for ½ days and interviewing with non-clinical staff members for a position that they didn’t fully understand.

I felt —-why isn’t someone helping me? I work hard. I love what I do. I still had so much to share professionally. Where is my professional organization when I was struggling with my profession?  I thought long and hard and then realized the only person could help was me …… and I AM the ADHA.

Now I realize that ADHA may not be perfect.  Maybe its vision and goals are slightly different from mine and ……maybe even yours…… but it is OUR professional association and it is what we have. Without us…. its members, the vision and goals of the association cannot change.

—–I’ve asked colleagues who are non members to tell me why they decided not to join their association. Some say time. —– If I told you there was no time involved would you be surprised?  Time is what you can give at a stage in your life when you can give it. There can be inactive times. There can be active times.  How you get involved is up to you. ———— Some say cost is a reason for non membership. Maybe you think the cost of membership is high but do you know what we get in return for our membership dues? —-You receive with your membership informational periodicals, Discount programs for prescriptions, auto insurance, hotels, car rentals, moving vans, life insurance, health insurance…… BUT …..The cost of not joining is far higher.

Without your membership we cannot help others by volunteering our services for the needy , host CE courses like the one you are attending today—– and most importantly…..we cannot help OURSELVES by uniting to fight for our rights as practitioners at the state level where we can change our scope of practice for the better!

I thank our members, in PA,  for the right to be the only dental auxiliary permitted to provide scaling to our patients. I thank our members for fighting for our right to provide local anesthesia so we can provide exceptional care for our patients…… and I thank them for fighting for our right to provide care under generalized supervision.

It is up to us to promote our profession. No one else will do it for us.  If you…. like I did, feel that the association is failing it is only because we do not have support from the professionals within in our field. We are failing ourselves and I know for a FACT that hygienists do not FAIL!

If you have never been a member please consider joining……..If you are a divorcee like I was please consider coming back home and working on a relationship worth saving.”







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