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Michele LaBasi

There’s been a lot of exiting going on in recent history. Great Britain’s citizens just voted to sever its membership from the European Union. It’s been indelibly named as Brexit. Great Britain remains intact. Earlier in June 2016, the California Dental Hygienists’ Association voted to secede from the tripartite level of being under the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA). ADHA remains strong.


Despite this move, California’s members will still have the support of ADHA. They are working on providing a new constituent with a charter agreement which could include using one of the new governance models introduced at the 93rd ADHA Annual Session in Pittsburgh. According to Immediate Past President, Jill Rethman, “We are working on the intricacies of it right now.” She added, “We do know it’s important to get something set up as soon as possible. By the same token, we want to make sure we set it up correctly.”

Many dental hygienists go into the field of dentistry because they are drawn to healthcare and have a heart to help others. In the past, the design of being able to work on a part time to full time basis in one or more dental offices has been the appeal to bring a steady flow of graduates to the job market. As the working model of dentistry has evolved, so have the opportunities for dental hygienists.


It’s not unusual for dental hygienists to further their education beyond what would have limited them to clinical practice. Opportunities have been available in education and research but now there is a growing body of dental hygienists in administrative and corporate positions. They are taking on positions of leadership and bringing their knowledge of the science behind prevention along with it. This is helping those who feel like they are prophy, perio therapy, or production pushers utilize their skills and talents to benefit a greater good.


Sadly, I’m seeing some of my fellow RDH’s exiting out of this field. They are feeling burned out, disrespected and underutilized. I read their stories and can even share some of my own. Unfortunately, I also know of dental hygienists who are physically injured and can’t return to the clinical side. I think the answer is not to give it up entirely, but take a break if needed and re-evaluate. We live in a time of abundance and have so much available to us at our fingertips. A lot of it is free or for the cost of membership.

If you are thinking of becoming part of the RDHexit, I challenge you to reconsider. Become part of a network and set yourself up for success. Connect with positive people who will support your dreams and endeavors. Attend seminars for personal growth and couple it with your dental hygiene education. If you are not a member of your professional association, join! The resources and networking are invaluable and the new ADHA Governance of Tomorrow models are bringing more opportunities.


I’m excited for the restructuring ADHA is bringing after 100 years of the same way of governance. I hope you are too!

Who’s with me?

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