By Carola Hicks
It is about effective leadership or, the process of directing the behavior of others toward the accomplishment of some common objectives; in this case working safely, in a safe environment. It does not mean that one person gets to ‘boss’ others but, does mean influencing people to get things done to a standard and quality to the benefit of office staff as well as patients.
What is leadership that promotes a culture of safety?
Organizational culture consists of attitudes, values and beliefs that are demonstrated in the workplace on a daily basis and affect the mental and physical well-being of employees; such as
- commitment to balanced workloads and job enrichment
- decision latitude
- employee involvement
- support for work-life balance
Strong leaders recognize that solid health and safety performance drives business results. They promote a culture of safety in their organizations, and integrate prevention measures into business strategies, processes and performance measures.
What the law says
The Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations set out clear requirements for creating a safe and healthy physical work environment. Leaders go beyond meeting their legal obligations, and seek instead to meet the spirit of the law, knowing that organizational performance depends on healthy, safe, engaged employees.
How leadership can help your organizational culture
Advocating within their practices for employee health and safety is a fundamental, achievable and critical role for leaders; it resonates powerfully at both a business and social level. The business case for health and safety resonates whether the organization is motivated by its bottom line, reputation, or social responsibility.
What you can do
A prevention culture begins and ends with a leader’s passion for health and safety. CEOs, owners and other leaders in a dental practice can transform the workplace by:
- Making it personal - who would tolerate an injury to oneself, one’s family members, or one’s co-workers?
- Demonstrating that health and safety matters by visibly implementing policies and procedures specifically addressing employees’ health and safety
- Making expectations of staff known, and holding them accountable, for example, around the critical issue of orientation training, which is often the weak link in an organization’s health and safety performance
Organizational commitment to Workplace Health and Safety is an integral part of staff retention and well being. Increasing awareness and legislative emphasis is placing more responsibility on leaders to ensure that the health and safety of all individuals is recognized as a fundamental element of their businesses success.
Health and safety are everyone’s responsibility; that is the basis of the Internal Responsibility System. It takes a good leader to ensure accountability; demonstrate your interest in creating safety by doing things yourself. Poor leaders don’t do what they ask others to do. Great leaders use their own actions to demonstrate what is important.
Carola Hicks graduated from Dental Hygiene, University of Toronto and is founder and CEO of Workplace Safety Group, experts in workplace health & safety.
We all think we are good listeners……. But are we?
By Lori Lawrence, RDH and Bev Woods, RRDH
In our profession as dental hygienists, we are given a unique opportunity to help people in many ways. We interact with clients every day, trying to assess their medical and dental needs. In such an intimate environment, it is vital that we develop a trusting relationship.
We have all heard it before; but do we really pay attention, or are we just going through the motions? It is so important to really listen to your clients and what they are saying in order to figure out what motivates them!
Are you asking the right questions?
Are you asking lots of questions to find out what the clients need
It takes time and effort to ask “good” questions
A good rule to follow is the 80/20 rule….we talk only 20% of the time !
The key lies in getting the clients to talk about themselves …that will change the way we deliver our messaging. Try to answer the clients question with a question, and make sure you make the time to repeat their answers back to them. This creates a ‘trusting’ relationship. Relationships with our clients are vital….clients will ‘trust’ you if you have a great rapport.
There are reasons for Questions…..we should never assume anything.
We need to have a complete understanding of what the clients’ want….not need!
Try to co-diagnose with your clients, ask the client questions rather than saying something like “you have an old filling that is cracked and you need a new one”. Instead ask the client “how old is that filling?”, then take the time to present an analogy to them by saying something like: have you ever had a crack in your windshield? Listen to their answer, if they say yes then you can respond with “what happens even if it starts out small?” The key here is to allow the client to process on his/her own, the logical consequences of leaving a filling broken over time.
Look around at all the advances in technology and though they are not all bad they have robbed our time to think, time to contemplate and time to plan. They do not give one the time to listen.
Scenario: a client walks into your office an tells you “I have a problem”….you should respond with “Yes you do”….don’t tell them “you don’t have a problem”, instead agree with them when they say they have a problem. This will make them feel like they are being “heard”
What makes someone a good or not so good listener? Those who are good at listening are often good at managing relationships, both professional and personal.
Some suggestions to improve your ability to listen well are:
- Make sure you are giving the person you wish to communicate with your undivided attention through body language and eye contact.
- Ensure you are sending a clear message both verbal and nonverbal. (Making sure that the tone and volume you use agrees with the content of your message, if you are pleased, look and sound happy. If you are angry, look and sound annoyed but never yell!)
- Be direct and honest
- Ask for feedback to ensure that your message was sent accurately
- Always wait for the person to complete a thought without interrupting before expressing your own ideas
- If you are not sure you understand the message, seek clarification by asking questions
- Paraphrase what you heard so the sender can be sure you got it right
When you have someone on the phone, upset because their dental hygiene visit was not paid for by their insurance company, are you listening to every word they say? Or did you hear the first few words and then start to formulate your reply. When a new client comes into your clinic and shares all their past experiences are you truly listening? Or are you thinking to yourself, “I have heard this all before” and wait for them to finish before proceeding with your own opinion.
Remember make sure to identify the ‘specific’ concern of the client, not a concern that you may be thinking is the clients concern.
Here is a very common scenario that happens in dental offices. A woman phones the office for the first time and speaks with the office administrator, asking her “Do you see children at your office?”…well before the words were out of her mouth the administrator says quite quickly and cheerfully…”oh yes we see lots of children in this office, we love children”! The administrator thought she was doing a great thing by encouraging this new client to come because they loved children. Instead what happened was quite the opposite. The potential new client on the phone thanked her for her time and advised that she would NOT be booking her appointment because she was looking for an office that does not see children, because she doesn’t like children! Whoops!
When you stop to listen instead of trying to think of how to answer the question posed to you, you will hear so much more.
Try to remember to stop and open your ears, eyes and heart to all those around you. You will see more than you ever say before.
“Thank-you for listening”
Lori Lawrence RDH, Bev Woods, RRDH
IDHA Business Boot Camps “Lighting the Path to Your Success”
By Carola Hicks
With an evolving health care system that demands greater independence, accountability and quality of service, dental hygiene must be proactive for increasing levels of responsibility and accountability in new and varied practice environments.
As mentioned in a previous blog, there is no question concerning the professional accreditation process to ensure patient/client safety at the hands of dental hygienists. The provincial regulatory bodies exist to ensure the safety of the public while under treatment by dental hygienists. It is the purpose of the respective provincial dental hygiene associations to advance the profession of dental hygiene through education and support to its’ members.
In reviewing the various provincial association websites it is evident that continuing education revolves around patient care; from record keeping to infection control to instrument care to nutrition to any number of patient focussed lectures, seminars and workshops. This is inarguably as it should be but, brings me back to the difference between patient care and worker care.
It must be made clear that dental hygienists need to look after themselves at least as well as they do their patients. It is not much different from the financial wisdom of “paying yourself first” as an investment strategy. Both are critical to successful career management.
As employees, dental hygienists are often at the mercy of their employers’ readiness to take on the responsibility toward them as employees. Dental Hygiene has come a long way and as a self-regulated profession in many jurisdictions, it is imperative that hygienists understand that they have the right to know about hazards they are exposed to in their workplaces and, have the right to receive training on mitigating those hazards. That is the employer’s responsibility. An independent dental hygiene practitioner, who employs others, has the same responsibility.
It is time for dental hygienists to embrace their professionalism and confidently approach their employers to ensure that they are treated with the same care and commitment shown to patients.
The health care sector, to which dental hygienists belong, faces the challenges of occupational hazard information transfer, including risk of violence, musculoskeletal disorders, infection transmission, equipment hazards to name a few. They must receive the training and preparation to carry out their jobs safely, first as a service to themselves in order to effectively and empathetically service their patients
Carola Hicks graduated from Dental Hygiene, University of Toronto and is founder and CEO of Workplace Safety Group, experts in workplace health & safety.
By Carola Hicks
After a lengthy search on Google for “healthy dental offices” I have come to realize that it’s all about the patient. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t be but, what about the dental office staff? In my previous Blog I began to address this issue because it was of concern in all the years I worked in dentistry.
How many dental hygienists actually understand that they have worker rights as well as responsibilities under their respective provincial occupational health and safety acts?
Do you understand what the IRS is? Do you have worker representation in your dental office? If your practice is large enough, do you have a health and safety committee? Does your employer ensure that you are aware of the hazards that may negatively affect your personal health? Does your office have a written health and safety policy? Have you been WHMIS trained? Do you know what MSDS stands for? How is the possibility of workplace harassment and/or violence addressed? If an injury or workplace illness does occur, do you know the protocol for reporting to your respective provincial worker compensation board?
The list of questions is infinite and it is evident that each of the questions relates directly to the worker, whether dental hygienist, dental assistant, reception or administrative staff. As an employee your rights are protected. Should you not be at least as concerned for your own welfare as for that of your patients? After all, if you are not well, how can you offer your best to them? If you don’t feel that your employer cares for your welfare, how can he expect you to care for that of his patients?
To give you an overview and answer to some of the above questions let’s begin with worker representation. In most jurisdictions workplaces, having fewer than twenty employees, must have a health and safety representative who represents the interests of the workers in matters of occupational health and safety. Where there is a larger number of staff members, a health and safety committee is required. A committee usually has worker and management representation.
IRS refers to the Internal Responsibility System. In very simple terms this means that everyone in the workplace has equal responsibility to work in a safe manner, whether worker, supervisor or owner. It is a matter of accountability, not only to patients but also to coworkers.
Have you been provided with training or awareness of hazards to your personal health in the office? Specifically, have you had WHMIS training? WHMIS stands for Workplace Hazardous Material Information System and is Canada's national hazard communication standard. Anyone who works with or in proximity to hazardous substances must be WHMIS trained.
An important component of WHMIS is MSDS, Material Safety Data Sheet. The Hazardous Products Act (HPA) places a legal requirement on a Canadian supplier of a WHMIS controlled product "intended for use in a work place in Canada" to transmit an MSDS, disclosing prescribed information, as a condition of sale. Do you know how many controlled or hazardous materials are used in your office?
We have just touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In a future Blog I will address other important health and safety issues for dental personnel.
Carola Hicks graduated from Dental Hygiene, University of Toronto and is founder and CEO of Workplace Safety Group, experts in workplace health & safety.
By Dr. Susan Ziebarth
September brings with it such amazing excitement back to school, lots of sales in stores, all kinds of fun and new exciting classes that people can enroll in, and for many of this is a punctuation mark for the close of summer with its more free-form style of life. One of my September projects is conducting interviews with high achieving women for a book I am writing. I have found the stories that each of these women has shared absolutely incredible. The highs and the lows, the challenges, and the rewards each has experienced is worthy of a book in itself.
One thread I am seeing through the course of these interviews is that there is often a time in people’s lives where they look back and wonder how they made it through that particular time in their life. It is often a place where so many factors are impacting on the individual and family from external sources. They noted that the daily routine they experienced just to make it through one day to the next was tough even though they thought they were living the life they wanted. It was not until something major happened that rocked their world did they realize that their life had been running like a perpetual motion machine. I have found that September marks a time when routine external demands literally restructure peoples’ lives and they cope by building a perpetual motion machine.
The demands of the workplace are greater as the more relaxed summer is behind us, days are getting shorter, and school and recreational schedules are so complex that it takes weeks to sort out who has to be where when and how they are going to get there. This list doesn’t even cover all the associated stress with back to school shopping, homework, and social dramas. Piece by piece many people construct a perpetual motion machine with lots of tubes, chutes, curves, and spirals so that they can navigate their daily life. Perpetual motion machines make the day-to-day easier in the short run as routines are established but over time we should be looking to see whether they are helping us or hindering us. Are we existing or are we thriving?
Often times we build these perpetual motion machines to make it easier for us to do everything for everyone…except ourselves! We feel guilty if we place our priorities first. We prioritize our needs so low that they become the first to go when time doesn’t permit. If you are in the process of building your fall perpetual motion machine, take a 30 minute break to just sit and think about what you are building. Bring your thoughts about yourself as a parent, spouse, employee, or business owner all out in the open and make sure that somewhere in there you are making room for yourself.
Here are 3 Tips to Build a Better Perpetual Motion Machine.
- Make your choices conscious ones.
- For everything you think of that you hear yourself say “I have to do that” - ask yourself “Who says I have to do it?” If the answer is that it is you that is telling yourself “you have to” take a moment to figure out if you are doing it because it needs to be done, you’d like it to be done, or if you are trying to be an invincible super hero?
- Do you hear any shoulds in there? Shoulds usually are things we don’t want to do. Do you REALLY need to do whatever that should represents? Can you enlist help to get it done?
- Make sure your voice is heard.
- Do not place your priorities last. You are an equal partner in your universe don’t take a supporting role.
- Follow-through with what you have used your voice to say.
- Sometimes people say they want to do something for themselves but it takes some effort to protect that something. Sometimes in the moment it is easier to give in and not do your thing. “But Mom, I have to wait 15 minutes at the end of my soccer practice for you to come and get me when you go to your Zumba class and I have lots of homework to do.” Sound familiar? Stand firm or you will forfeit your choices and lose your voice.
Use these tips so you don’t get to a point where you have to tell someone someday that you don’t know how you made it through this time in your life.
Have you built your share of perpetual motion machines? Tell us below in the comments how that worked or is working for you.
By James Andrews
Stem cells are found in baby teeth that are naturally coming out and other healthy teeth being extracted, such as wisdom teeth. Dental stem cells have the potential to be used in both dental and medical applications, and have already been shown to regenerate mandibular bone and used to treat periodontal disease in human research studies. These new stem cell therapies are known as “regenerative medicine.” Research published in 2011 showed that dental stem cells can produce insulin, 1 suggesting they could eventually play a role in treating type 1 diabetes. Similar to cord blood stem cells (which have been used to treat leukemia and blood-related cancers), dental stem cells are also being studied by researchers for treating conditions such as spinal cord injury, stroke, heart attack and neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
1.Refer to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21335539 or http://www.store-a-tooth.com/applications/diabetes.php.
Case Selection: Which teeth can be saved?
Any tooth with healthy dental pulp and an active blood supply is a viable candidate for stem cell preservation: exfoliating baby teeth, teeth pulled for braces, extracted wisdom teeth.
How “wiggly” can a baby tooth be?
For baby teeth, the optimal case is where the root has not fully resorbed, e.g. where the tooth has not exfoliated past the gum line. However, as long as there is some healthy dental pulp, it’s possible to harvest the stem cells. If there is only a small amount of pulp left, we generally recommend the parents choose a cell culture service. (This is where the cells are grown briefly in culture in order to expand the number of stem cells that will be cryopreserved.)
Which is better: exfoliating deciduous teeth or permanent adult teeth?
Both. Research shows that the younger the tooth, the more proliferative the stem cells, so that points to saving baby teeth. However, wisdom teeth generally have more dental pulp, so may provide a larger quantity of stem cells that can be preserved.
Which is better: incisors, bicuspids or molars?
All can be successfully stored. There is reason to believe that exfoliating incisors or bicuspids may yield a greater amount of dental pulp. It’s often helpful to review the child’s X-rays in order to choose the best candidate for tooth collection.
How to talk about dental stem cell banking with your patients
Do you have a child who’s losing a tooth soon?
Has your child in high school or college had their wisdom teeth extracted yet?
Did you bank or consider banking your child’s cord blood?
Dental stem cell banking offers another chance to save your family’s stem cells. Banking dental stem cells with a service like Store-A-ToothTM enables families to collect and save the stem cells from their own teeth.
If you did bank your child’s cord blood, you can think of dental stem cells as complementary to cord blood stem cells (and vice versa!). Dental stem cells are more suited for solid tissue applications than those from cord blood, while cord blood contains hematopoietic stem cells and can be used for a bone marrow transplant, which dental stem cells cannot do.
Does the child have a known health condition or family risk factor?
If you know someone who has diabetes, you may be interested in hearing this. Recent research showed that stem cells from teeth can produce islet-like cells which produce insulin in a glucose-responsive manner. This is still early research, but suggests that dental stem cells may play a role in a future treatment for diabetes.
Like OBGYNs before them with cord blood, it is the role of the dental hygienist to inform and educate their patients so that they can make an educated decision about storing their adult stem cells.
You can contact James for more information at www.Store-A-Tooth.com
It’s been many years since graduating from the University of Toronto, Dental Hygiene programme. As a matter of fact it’s exactly 40 years this month. I just received information on our upcoming reunion. As I reflect on the first few months, I recall the capping ceremony, yes that’s right we wore nurses caps with a mauve velvet stripe. The previous year’s students then lit our candles to signify a passing on of sorts. Can’t quite remember what was being passed on but I’ll attribute the memory lapse to forty years of life’s experiences.
After graduation I entered public health to educate primary school children on oral health and to conduct very cursory intraoral examinations on a selected segment of the school population. Examination instruments were soaked in a disinfecting solution for roughly thirty minutes before being used for the next group of children. I did not wear gloves, a mask, and safety glasses or, wash and use hand sanitizers between children. Throughout those early years a little voice in my head questioned what long-term health effects would befall me in later years. Aside from the direct contact with oral fluids, disinfecting solutions and breathing in aerosols I was exposed to a plethora of other chemical contaminants and biological hazards. This continued as I transitioned into private practice.
Enter once again that little voice suggesting that my health and safety were at risk.
Practising Dental Hygiene was a privilege and a passion. For over half my career I specialized in paediatric and orthodontic disciplines. When it was time to hang up my scalers I was far from ready to “retire”. Instead there was an opportunity to found a company specializing in workplace health and safety. One of my sincerest desires was to address issues that affect Dental Hygiene practitioners.
Dental Hygiene has come a long way since I graduated. No longer are hygienists employees only; they are employers and entrepreneurs. Along with these new roles come responsibilities under federal and provincial health and safety laws. Historically dentists have done everything possible for the safety of their clients but, as employers, not nearly enough to keep their employees safe and healthy. Interestingly, the following quote, although from an American source, identifies the lack of emphasis on health and safety for the health care worker.
May 18, 2011
“Health care is the second-fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing over 12 million workers. Women represent nearly 80% of the health care work force. Health care workers face a wide range of hazards on the job, including needle stick injuries, back injuries, latex allergy, violence, and stress. Although it is possible to prevent or reduce health care worker exposure to these hazards, health care workers actually are experiencing increasing numbers of occupational injuries and illnesses. Rates of occupational injury to healthcare workers have risen over the past decade.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
It is my personal quest to raise health and safety awareness for the Dental Hygiene profession. I look forward to contributing future Blogs and resources. You are welcome to email me with comments, suggestions or questions.
Carola Hicks graduated from Dental Hygiene, University of Toronto and is founder and CEO of Workplace Safety Group, experts in workplace health & safety - HTTP://WWW.WORKPLACESAFETYGROUP.COM
By Cindy Isaak-Ploegman RDH
When I first graduated in 1989 it was easy to find employment as a dental hygiene clinician. At all three dental offices I had an interview; the only question I was asked was, "When are you able to start?" Three years later I was laid off due to a reduction in the client base. Due to the economic recession at the time, dental insurance companies were reducing their coverage of regular dental hygiene appointments from every six months to every nine months. Now it seems we face similar fiscal concerns again.
Do you every wonder if you are going to survive this recession? There is a constant pull between loyalty to professional values and economic pressures. As repugnant as daily production goals are, if a certain amount of revenue is not generated, renumeration for dental hygiene staff and practice sustainability is not possible. But how much revenue is enough exactly? Do we need to have an upper cap at all? How are we able to serve someone who we are trying to squeeze more income from based on our interests and not their own?
The idea of treating clients as sources of consumer dollars, who we need to compete for with the dental office down the hall, definitely suggests a business model of client care and not a professional or client based model (Ozar, 1985). If we find that our focus on production places clients' values or our professional or personal values in jeopardy, our upcoming webinar May 16, 2012 with presenter Laura Kessler on "Finding your voice in Dental Hygiene practice" will cover tips on how to succeed in your professional practice and remain in alignment with your personal integrity.
Sometimes a recession is a good thing as it causes us to re-examine why we do what we do, for whom we do it, and how we approach our role as professionals.
Client education has been highlighted as the key ingredient to ensure our clients are aware of the importance of what dental hygienists role is in maintaining their oral health and the link to their overall health (Christensen, 2011). There are huge opportunities to promote wellness in our dental hygiene practice given the recent research on systemic conditions and oral health as well as the importance for preschool age children to maintain good oral hygiene.
However, this does not imply that we should threaten clients by telling them that they will have a heart attack if they refuse to attend their regular periodontal maintenance appointment, or we then risk being accused of breeching veracity (Wentworth, 2011). The truth is that not every client is diabetic or at risk of a stroke, endocarditis, or having a low weight pre-term baby.
If clients know the value of a health service, they will not hesitate to seek treatment regardless of financial limitations (Christensen, 2011). This is true of treatment deemed unavoidable, but possibly expensive, such as the removal of suspicious lesions.
The challenge is managing our client load with care. Some practical suggestions include replacing diminutive terms such as 'cleanings' with periodontal maintenance appointments, preventive care appointments, or oral cancer examinations when referring to dental hygiene appointments (Elster, 2009; Levin, 2009). Also included are suggestions for replacing the term 'confirming appointments' with reminding clients of upcoming appointments (Levin, 2009).
As a research assistant for a dental implant study, I was faced with a challenge of having research participants attend sample collection appointments over the span of a year at preset times, with only a ten-day window for change and my own limited availability. I realized I had to connect with each of these clients in a personal way or they would not be motivated to be compliant with the series of appointments, especially after their crowns were placed.
I also found that discovering their preferred mode of communication was necessary. Turns out that some don't use email, some don't have answering machines, and some never answer or return my phone calls, but they have all attended their appointments. Scheduling the follow up appointment at the last appointment is key and following up that arrangement soon after it is made is a good idea.
Educating clients, connecting with our clients personally, and not denigrating our value to the dental health care team are all consistent with client-centered professionalism.
I would love to hear your comments about this timely concern and of your strategies or challenges.
**Please note our webinars are also available in the archived version so if Wednesday evening does not suit your schedule you are able to access Laura's webinar presentation and question and answer period at your convenience by logging into our website.
Christensen, G. J. (2011). Helping patients understand and accept the best treatment plans. Journal of the American Dental Association, 142(8), 197-200.
Elster, M. (2009). Recession proof your practice through patient retention in hygiene. Hawaii Dental Journal, 40(6), 15.
Levin, R. P. (2009). Making the most of hygiene appointments. Journal of the American Dental Association, 140, 1305-1306.
Ozar, D. T. (1985). Three models of professionalism and professional obligation in dentistry. Journal of the American Dental Association, 110(2), 173-177.
Wentworth, R. B. (2011). What are the ethical issues I need to consider when developing marketing strategies for my practice? Journal of the American Dental Association, 142(8), 966-967.
By Cindy Isaak-Ploegman
Slander is defined as making a statement about another person with the intent to implicate them in a criminal activity, ruin their professional reputation, imply they have a terrible disease, or cast doubt on their chastity (Jerrold, 2001). Slander may cost individuals their client base, employment opportunities, promotion, and a good name.
In my opinion slander when mixed with power, is one of the most repugnant unprofessional behaviors. Foucault maintained that power is not an entity, but occurs only in relationship and cannot be exercised without the production of truth or knowledge (Foucault, 1980). This is why students are vulnerable to the power exerted by their educators (Nicholas, 1999), and clients are vulnerable to power by those who provide them with dental hygiene care and health education.
Educators need to be mindful to avoid creating or allowing a culture infused with slander between professionals or between students and instructors. Practitioners need to be careful not to speak disparagingly of those they serve: their clients.
We seem to be almost gleeful in our quest to know details of other's dirt and are so hooked on casting light on evil doing, but we seldom question the veracity of the information. Freedom of speech does not include a departure from professional conversation or the truth.
Even the grave offers no insurance from slander (Taff, 1988). When Whitney Houston passed away, we felt we were owed all the gory details not considering the implications to her family and friends of the speculations that were made.
The legal implications of slander involve a defendant needing to prove that the statements were not meant to be slanderous, but were expressions of fact or merely a difference of opinion, and the plaintiff is not required to prove harm was done (Jerrold, 2001). Even though a slanderer may not be found liable in a court of law, they may be found guilty of professional misconduct by their governing body, so statements of superiority, negativity, and commenting inappropriately about a colleague should always be avoided (Jerrold, 2001). Although escaping paying punitive action in the courts, a governing body still has the power to remove a professional’s license.
Other implications may include a professional's liability insurance that only covers the professional if the context in which the slander occurred included a professional service, and may not cover a professional choosing to speak disparagingly of a fellow colleague outside the context of client care (O'Hern, 1968).
The implications for the workplace are obvious, as power exists between those being bullied and those being employed. It has even gone full circle with employers now hesitant to provide an honest assessment of former employees in a reference due to the risk of being accused of slander (McConnell, 2000).
The antidote to slander is communication between colleagues and between professionals and clients to diminish potential misunderstandings. Clarification goes a long way to explain what we may assume is unethical (Broad, 1982) or suspect behavior or character.
And finally, what goes around comes around. Our slanderous comments may not definitively land us in a legal battle or cost us our licenses, but we know for sure we do not want to be on the receiving end of slander. If we are honest most of us have participated in slander: its gossip after five minutes. If you have been the victim of slander, you know it only leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. I look forward to hearing of your experiences and views on this topic.
Broad, W. J. (1982). NIH grapples with misconduct. Science (New York, N.Y.), 217(4556), 227.
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association. (2002). Code of ethics. Retrieved from http://www.cdha.ca/pdfs/Profession/Resources/CDHA_Code_of_Ethics_public.pdf
Crow, S. M., Hartman, S. J., Nolan, T. E., & Zembo, M. (2003). A prescription for the rogue doctor: Part I--begin with diagnosis. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, (411)(411), 334-339. doi:10.1097/01.blo.0000068762.86536.c6
Foucault, M. (1980). Two Lectures. In C. Gordon (Ed.), Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 (pp. 78-108). Kate Soper, trans. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.
Jerrold, L. (2001). Sticks and stones. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial
Orthopedics, 119, 455-6.
McConnell, C. R. (2000). Employment references: Walking scared between the minefield of defamation and the specter of negligent hiring. The Health Care Manager, 19(2), 78-90.
Nicholas, B. (1999). Power and the teaching of medical ethics. Journal of Medical Ethics, 25(6), 507-513.
O'Hern, V. M. (1968). Liability insurance for slander and libel. JAMA:The Journal of the American Medical Association, 206(13), 2985-2986.
Taff, M. L. (1988). Libel and slander protection for the dead. another problem for medical examiners. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, 9(1), 1-4.
C4. Explore complex issues from many points of view recognizing biases and assumptions.
Example: Analyze local newspaper articles related to fluoridation of a new community to determine the arguments being made against fluoridation. Review existing literature to determine the credibility of evidence to support or refute community water fluoridation. Examine dental hygiene regulatory issues from the perspective of the dental hygiene profession, other health professionals and the public.
By Sharon Boyd, RDH
Controversial issues are nothing new to dentistry. Whether it’s amalgam fillings or water fluoridation, opponents have created a widespread support against their use backed by evidence and research that usually do not allow any room for the support of the topic at hand. Riding the fence so to say is usually impossible because publications are either on one side or the other.
Because we will have patients and professionals alike that are on both sides of these type of arguments, we should be able to open mindedly read and explore the research at hand in order for us to offer unbiased information and advice.
When preparing to discuss topics like water fluoridation with our patients (especially those inclined to more holistic and natural therapies) we need to have a thorough knowledge of the evidence at hand. If we continually ignore the arguments put forward by groups like those who are against fluoridation, we will not be able to address their concerns.
I remember several years ago there was a news special on the water being used in the dental offices and how people could become infected with these horrible microorganisms that lived in the water lines. It was weeks before a day went by where none of the patients brought it up.
It will be the same for you if your local newspaper publishes a report on the horrors of water fluoridation. Remember that publications many times aim for the sensationalism of it all (especially if it’s on television) to catch more readers or viewers. By playing up fears and concerns from the most extreme of circumstances, almost anything can be painted in a negative light.
While it would not be wise to ignore these claims, it is important for us to dig further into the research so that we know all of the facts. Offering counter-arguments or information to show the entire story can help patients and the public to make their own educated decisions. A good source for research literature is PubMed online. Statistics and research can be used in comparison to show both sides of an issue.
One study doesn’t necessarily prove a point, but consistent findings recorded in a scientific manner can help explain the general overall conditions surrounding complex issues that have a wide variety of viewpoints. As healthcare practitioners our job is to present information to our patients and allow them to choose the method of treatment that they deem is most suitable and appropriate from what we are able to offer them. We can never make other people believe certain things or choose some things over others, but by understanding the information on all sides of the topic we can be at a better position to address our patient’s needs and personal beliefs.
In 2008 a process began to establish a new base upon which to build entry to practice standards for dental hygienists. Much collaboration and deliberation has occurred over these many years with many dental hygiene stakeholders. The result is that the Entry to Practice Competencies and Standards for Canadian Dental Hygienists has been accepted by the Federation of Dental Hygiene Regulatory Authorities (FDHRA) who have instructed both the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada and the National Dental Hygiene Certification Board to revise their requirements to meet these standards. In recognition of the new standards this series of blog posts addresses issues drawn from the standards.
If you have an interest in contributing a blog post to this series please contact us.