Since graduating from my dental hygiene program over 30 years ago with my dear friend Wendy, who is here with me today, I have acquired 5 state dental hygiene licenses, worked in more dental offices than I can count, finished my bachelor’s in dental hygiene and met my mentor and dear friend Dr. Shirley Beaver. Dr. Beaver took a chance and hired me to teach alongside her and is the sole reason I successfully completed my master’s in public administration a few years ago. You see, if any of you know Dr. Beaver, she pushes you to be the best version of yourself. I challenge all of you to find your “Dr. Beaver”, or better yet….be a “Dr. Beaver” and provide mentorship for other dental hygienists.
My career path has since evolved again, and I now work in state government at the Illinois Department of Public Health. My point is, to always strive for what fulfills you and when you no longer wake up and can be excited about the day, it is time to reinvent yourself. As your President I will always defend positive change in all those who serve alongside me. An “always forward, never backward” approach.
In March, COVID 19 blind-sided the profession of dentistry and most dental offices closed their doors for the first time in history. We all clung to our computers and signed up for every webinar and zoom meeting we could to try to get answers about the virus. We did this so we could get back to work providing preventive care dentistry safely and swiftly for our patients. We all learned more about aerosols that we ever thought possible and finding a package of toilet paper on the grocery store shelf was like winning the lottery.
And here we are…. 8 months later and look how far we have come. Most of you have embraced our new normal and a few have decided on a career change or retire. Whatever your decision was it aligns itself with this fluid thing called life. One of my favorite quotes is, “Do the best you can do until you know better, and then be better” and “better” looks different for everyone. Let go of things you cannot control and focus on bettering yourself. “Always forward, never backward”
There is no prouder time to belong to the American Dental Hygienists Association. Our tripartite organization rose to the challenge and provided as much guidance as humanly possible as the “facts” about COVID 19 change on a daily basis. There has never been a greater example of how belonging to your professional organization can make a difference.
IDHA’s latest accomplishment has been the development and implementation of the Public Health Dental Hygienist and to date we have 73 Registered Dental Hygienist who have completed the program and certification. I am proud to say that I am one of them. As your President, I vow to maintain the momentum of the PHDH and not let the leaders who served before me down.
Let us reflect on our successes and be proud, but not loose site of what more we can accomplish together. One vision I have as President of IDHA is to increase our scope of practice to allow dental hygienists to be supervised by physicians, therefore, allowing Dental Hygienists to work in hospitals and medical facilities. This addition to Illinois dental practice act would give Dental Hygienists increased employment opportunities and the ability to work with patients in hospital settings.
It is vital that we continue to fight for an expanded scope of our practice here in Illinois, and this can be accomplished when leadership is viewed as an action and not just a position.
As the President of the Illinois Dental Hygienist Association, I promise to uphold the office with greatest integrity and passion and am proud to serve alongside some of the finest healthcare professionals I have ever met and even prouder to add my name to the list of IDHA Presidents.
Sherri Foran, RDH, BSDH, MPA, PHDH