by Eva Watson
There are people that claim they are advocates of stuff; they partake in advocate-y types of things without much credence to back up their statements. Then again, there are those who are dedicated to the continuing awesomeness of support to an idea; a cause; or a spectacular organization of professionals.
Dental hygienists are pretty much the awesomeness I was referring to. Kneel when you approach.
I’m proud to introduce Mark Hartley, editor of RDH Magazine and overall good guy, to the DentalBuzz audience.
Mark took some time to answer questions while he was busy attending RDH/Under One Roof.
DB: How did you become the editor of RDH Mag?
MH: I was basically a flunky for RDH throughout most of the 1980s and early 1990s. Did proofreading, subbed in for editors when they were on vacation or on the road. In 1995, PennWell acquired RDH and asked me to help with the transition. I must have done all right, because the company asked me to stay on as the editor. So I have been the editor since 1995.
DB: A flunky- I love it. How have your opinions evolved regarding the dental hygiene industry over the course of sixteen years with RDH Magazine?
MH: I think I recognized that hygienists such as Irene Woodall, Regina Dreyer, Trisha O’Hehir, etc., were part of a second generation of leaders, guiding the profession to where it is today. But I don’t think I had a full appreciation of it until I became the editor. I have always encouraged hygienists to express themselves as writers, and I think the magazine fortunately has witnessed that during the past 16 years.
There have been some terrific writers over the past 16 years. If I may so, you’re a proud member of the current generation. On another front, manufacturers have always supported the ADHA and RDH magazines throughout the years. But I think we have actually observed them being actively engaged with the profession. RDH Under One Roof is one example of it. Another example is the career growths of dental hygienists who embarked on second careers with corporations. They used to be just “professional educators,” sent out to the state hygiene meetings to do seminars. But all of the major dental corporations now have dental hygienists in key positions, and they are profoundly influencing the relationship between manufacturers and dental hygienists.
DB: RDH Magazine is an outstanding vehicle for hygienists to stamp vital opinions in. Have you seen an increase in dentist support for the publication during the years? Or is the current consensus from dentists the ever-present, “Dental hygiene? It’s not rocket science. Any schmuck can clean teeth.”?
MH: We did a survey last April where 103 dental hygienists commented on the politics of the relationship between the two professions. Interestingly, 57% said their boss would vote in favor of dental hygiene to enhance patient care if a state board asked the hygienist’s employer to cast the deciding vote. We also asked who was the most supportive person in a dental office. “Dentists” was the largest response at 38%. That, of course, is not a majority. But the next highest percentage was “no one” at 21%, followed by 17% who indicated a front office person was the most supportive. So, hygienists are naturally, very offended by derogatory attitudes on the political level. On a personal career level, it’s a different story.
DB: You know what would be great? A national game of ‘Capture the Flag’ between RDHs and dentists. Only the youngest, fittest, and newly-licensed hygienists hungry for jobs would represent our side while the dentist team would have the most burnt-out, crotchety, old-men with a penchant for thirty-minute prophylaxes screaming, “Off sides! Those hygienists are off sides!” when, all along, the dentists just got frustrated because they know the RDHs were much better at capturing their flag. I would definitely watch that game.
MH: Well, I’d hate to see myself as a cheerleader. I think the spectators would be thoroughly depressed with that image. On the other hand, we recently did a rate-uniform-scrubs survey; it was sort of a Project Runway voting on dental uniforms. One person wrote in to say she would like to see me in one of those scrub tops. I guess I could bite the bullet for the home team.
DB: Yeah, baby! Just please let the scrub top be of a solid color. The unsettling vision of you sporting a Betty-Boop printed scrub top is not quite the lasting impression the fans need to see. Know what I mean?
MH: Absolutely. Even the three dogs who own me would howl mournfully, long into the night.
It takes an exceptional person to admit their limitations in the arena of dental scrub top fashion. There are only so many horrific prints our eyes can handle.