January 2015 Print

President's Report

Hello and welcome to a new year at ODHA. I appreciate each of you who have chosen to be active members of this association. It is through this organization where issues that will affect all hygienists in Oregon are met head on and we are able to move our profession forward. I became a dental hygienist in 1977 and have enjoyed all this profession has to offer. When I graduated from OHSU I knew I would work in a private dental office, which I did for over 25 years. I have also worked in a pedo office, managed care, participated in several research projects, consulted and now I teach in a dental hygiene program. Believe me, you never know when the “bug” for leadership is going to strike. If you had asked me in 1977 if I would ever be a leader I would have laughed. I wanted nothing more than to graduate, begin working, get married and have children; all of which I was able to do as a dental hygienist. But this profession has provided many opportunities for personal growth. It began as I started leading medical emergency drills, infection control and creating a perio protocol for the dental office. Then I started helping with the hiring of new employees. I found myself stepping into more and more leadership roles both inside and outside of the profession. Before I knew it I had started on the path to becoming an educator. It seems the opportunities to lead just kept popping up! In my current role as clinical education coordinator at Pacific University I help prepare students for independent practice. Over the years, I have taken every expanded practice and advanced certification course allowable in the state of Oregon. That is the beauty of working in Oregon. We can use our education and licenses to work in private practice, public health, education, research, consulting, business, advocacy, schools, restorative practice, expanded practice and many more! I have been able to choose where and what I want to do with my license. As a dental hygienist, we have a choice to provide patient care in a private or group practice setting, work as a restorative dental hygienist providing nutrition counseling while packing and carving restorations, administer anesthesia in an oral surgeon’s office, place dental sealants in the schools or work independently out of a dental van. The opportunities just keep growing!

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Thank you

I would be remiss if I did not take this chance to thank some instrumental people in our organization. Thank you Hildie for a year of transformation within the organization. Thank you to the board of trustees and councils who worked so hard this past year to bring our association to new heights and thank you to all those who participate into making this association into what it is today. I would also like to extend a special thank you to our management firm, Western Advocates, who has worked tirelessly to build the ODHC conference and our association over the past year. It has definitely been a collective effort to bring forth the transformation in ODHA that Oregon Dental Hygienists are so fortunate to share.

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What is your membership doing for you?

Today healthcare is moving more and more toward interprofessional care; we need to be ready to join the interprofessional team as the prevention professionals in dentistry. I believe we should to be in every school, senior residential center, pediatrician’s office, dental clinic, and hospital in Oregon. I don’t think we have too many Dental hygienists, I think we haven’t realized all the places dental hygienists should be!

This is what our association does for us. It sets the path for our futures through education and legislation. It is our voice! But that begs the question…How loud is our voice? Currently we have 451 ODHA members in Oregon. That is 11% of all the licensed hygienists in Oregon, yet all dental hygienists benefit from our work!

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ODHA and you in 2015

Last year was our year for transformation. Under Hildie and the Board of Trustees guidance, ODHA was transformed into a viable, working organization focused on support, development and empowerment of its members in Oregon. This year my goal is to increase our membership so that we come closer to representing the majority of dental hygienists in our state. It is through numbers that we demonstrate our solidarity to the state legislators, speaking as one voice to help direct the future of our profession. It is through numbers that we lessen the burden of leadership in our organization. It is through numbers that we can provide excellent opportunities for education and connections such as the Oregon Dental Hygienists Conference. It is through numbers that we can support, encourage and help one another to grow. Growth in our association needs to happen on the component, state and national levels.

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. When we wait for power to be offered, it typically does not come. As an association we have to create our own power by reaching out with one voice to continually maintain and grow our opportunities. I have heard many dental hygienists say, “I’m not political, I just want to work in my operatory and provide the best care possible.” I have to admit I said the very same words when I first entered the profession. Each of us do not have to be “political”, we just have to believe and support our profession through membership in our association so that our leadership can lead the way at the state and national level.

I recently read the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. In the book she coined the phrases “Think globally, act locally. Think personally, act communally”. It occurred to me that is just what we need to be doing to build our association. If we want to build a global organization for dental hygienists, we need to act here in Oregon, in our own local components. Think personally what ODHA has done for you and how it affects your ability to provide care, your job satisfaction and the possibilities that await you in the future. Then, act communally to reach out to other dental hygienists to join ODHA and strengthen our association.

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ODHA's transformation continues

ODHA has been through quite a transformation in the past year, but the work is not done. We face issues such as a continually changing economy, finding our fit within a new healthcare system and the creation of new job markets. We have invested in a management company to help reduce the everyday tasks of association management and participate in the development of exciting new conferences. We have invested in technology to update our website and make it easier to use and more accessible to our membership, and we are continuing to reach out through social media to communicate with hygienists more than ever before. We have created collaborative working relationships with outside groups such as the Oregon Oral Health Coalition, the Dental Foundation of Oregon, the Oregon Rural Health Association, the Oregon Dental Association, Oregon’s Board of Dentistry and in the State Legislature.

On a national level we are trying to work closer with ADHA which is lead this year by our own Kelli Swanson Jaecks. We plan to send a strong delegation to the 92nd annual meeting this year in Nashville, Tennessee from June 17 through the 23rd. If you have never experienced a National ADHA meeting, now is the time to add this to your bucket list. This is an annual opportunity to see the strength of what dental hygienists can do when we work together!

To help prepare for this exciting new future in Oregon, we need to focus on growing our membership and training new association leadership. We need to look to our components to help draw new members at the local level. I look forward to working together with your Board in leading and growing ODHA in the next year. We really are STONGER TOGETHER.

Gail Aamodt RDH, MS
ODHA President

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