American philosopher John Dewey is quoted saying “we do not learn from experience, we learn from reflection on experience”. Reflection gives us the opportunity to find transformational meaning in any of life’s experiences. It could be looking back at an event that happened years ago or perhaps looking back on someone else’s life to discover meaning or purpose beneficial to you. Reflection is taken the time to slow down in this obnoxiously fast paced world to give serious thought to a momentous happening. If you’re anything like me then your process of reflection can take days, weeks or even months.
American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) annual session adjourned a month ago and here I am still processing all that took place. The principle behind annual session is much bigger than what there is to see on the exhibit floor. The majority of attendees go to be surrounded by like-minded people and to be part of an organization structured to help its members find love, joy, satisfaction, excitement and, most importantly, advancement in their careers. Regardless of what your expectations for annual session are, the opportunity to leave feeling prosperous is invaluable.
Here are some of my special moments from 2016 Annual Session:
Let’s start with some Fun! CLL runs a week with most of the fun stuff happening earlier on. What’s rewarding about dental hygiene is that we are a profession with the ability to provide services that make a real difference in the world. ADHA is an organization that provides members with the opportunity to serve the public through Community Service day and at this year’s first ever 5K Run Walk Fun event we were able to FUNdraise for the Institute of Oral Health (a foundation by hygienists for hygienists). Volunteering, fundraising and then being able to celebrate these achievements are essential to me when it comes to professional freedom. ADHA does a great job of balancing business and fun!
Community Service Day: Pittsburgh Mercy
5K Run Walk Fun
Reconnecting and making new connections: Many hygienists who attend annual session look forward to being reunited with friends from across the country or the chance to make new connections. This year I did some very special reconnecting with my instructors from Fones School of Dental Hygiene, Kristen Minihan-Anderson and Karen Sue Williams. These women had a huge impact on my life and ultimately influenced the path I am on today. Mentorship is crucial. As we sat there and reflected on my time as a student, one who was a mentor to my instructors, Olga Ibsen RDH, M.S. walked into the restaurant. I think Professor Anderson captured this moment best:
“As an educator, this is a true "full circle" moment. Spending quality time with the student from the first class you ever taught and a true icon who taught you as a student 24 years ago walks into the same restaurant.”
What a beautiful moment to have been a part of!
Other moments that were special to me were connections made with some of the first time attendees whom I consider to be the “young blood” of ADHA. For the sake of the future of dental hygiene, it’s important we help those that are new to the profession understand the value of being a part of something big so that they can become dedicated members too! These ladies have me certain that the future of dental hygiene is a bright one!
Vicki Ashe, Cristina Galindo and Nancy An – Thanks for inspiring me!
Networks: Hot Topics & Emerging Trends – New Professionals: I can tell you confidently that I would not and could not have made it this far without the ADHA. My ultimate career goal is to “own the front of the room” in the world of continuing education, leadership and speaking. At this year’s annual session ADHA provided me with the opportunity to do so when I was asked to lead the hot topic discussion on new professionals: dental hygienists in oral surgery.
At the end of the discussion, the leader of another organization approached me. She asked if I would be interested in presenting this topic at their annual session. As Professor Anderson described above, I was experiencing a “full circle” moment and had to quickly snap out of it to accept this woman’s invitation. This was a significant moment in my career and I have been in reflection mode since returning from annual session. It’s really starting to sink in: I’m getting closer to my dreams!
Almost three years ago I left a well-paying job for flexibility and more control over my life. I turned my back on the 9-5 schedule to discover what I like to call “Professional Freedom”. Although some amazing things have happened to me along the way, I still have so far to go. I truly believe that no matter what profession you are in, we all deserve to find joy, love, satisfaction and excitement in our careers. I look forward to sharing what has worked for me in hopes to inspire professional freedom within you!
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