Technology and progress.
We live and work in a world where almost every technological advancement represents an opportunity to improve how we work or how we communicate. No sooner do we upgrade our equipment or software than a newer version emerges with additional features. Not only can keeping current be expensive, but staying on top of the learning curve for using these advancements can distract us from the primary reasons were using them, both at work and at home.
Sometimes it almost seems as if we'd be better off if progress would slow down long enough for us to catch up. But that's not the environment in which we operate. For the most part, I think this is good. The status quo isn't productive or challenging. Our agility in operating outside our own comfort zone makes us more effective. The more adaptable we are, the better prepared we are to seize a moment and make a positive difference.
The guest editorial in this issue of Access points out that the millennial generation is the first to have been born into the digital age. Previous generations were here when the internet, the World Wide Web, mobile devices and social media arrived, and they lived through and continue to live through their development. Even for established dental hygienists who embraced digital connectivity immediately, their relationship to it is different from millennials'. Millennials are native speakers of a language that previous generations had to learn, and this can affect intergenerational communication.
In a report on ADHA's 2012 Unleashing Your Potential Workshop, Carol Jahn, RDH, MS, noted that the majority of ADHA members--and leaders--at that time were baby boomers, with dental hygienists from generation X and the millennial generation being developed as leaders. She wrote,
"Boomers are baffled by unacknowledged emails and unreturned phone calls. Gen X and [millennials] are frustrated by the lack of expertise or even adoption of technologies like texting and social media. In terms of association leadership, Boomers believe in consensus and utilization of the team meeting for this purpose. In comparison, Gen X and [millennials] like to do things their own way, and may find meetings restrictive and a 'waste of time.'"
It's important for all generations to find ways to work together: every generation has something to teach and something to learn. All of us in our profession and our association must be connected together for the benefit of not only those we serve, but also those with whom we serve. Our constituent and component organizations can serve as strong bridges uniting dental hygienists from different generations, and as forums for intergenerational teaching/learning.
Our profession only gets stronger when we take the time to share our expertise with one another. As dental hygienists in all practice settings and all professional roles become more proficient using technology, I believe we will find ourselves crossing over into a new modes of communication and practice.
By Bety Kabel, RDH, BS