It is 2016 and as the year changed over, with it brought change throughout our profession. As easy as it is to stay within our comfort zone, we must push ourselves to continue to move forward.  Change is always occurring and to stay current and relevant we are changing too.

The executive board has been busy reviewing the bylaws, reviewing and preparing for the charter agreement with ADHA and working toward development and implementation of a procedure manual.

During our Annual meeting in August, we had our Mega Issues discussion. These discussions are such a valuable way to get member input and we listened! We went through each question and compiled the answers. We then had a very thorough discussion on how we can meet the needs of our members. 1 – Barriers to care: It was announced during annual meeting that Registered Dental Hygienists will soon be able to bill Medicaid directly. Once we have confirmation that this is a go, we will be offering a continuing education course on how to prepare to become an independent biller. We have discussed having a grant writing course to help meet the needs of outreach efforts. 2 – Current work force models: We also discussed having a future panel discussion on current workforce models for dental hygienists in Vermont – clinical, public health forensic aid, education, research, eldercare and sales. 3 – How can hygienists support their profession – We discussed course that bring the whole healthcare team together. November was the Bridging the Divide conference. VDHA will be updating our website to ensure that we can easily update it, provide the most current information and evidence-based research available, allow for online registration for continuing education and have it meet our needs for the future. Networking with other hygienists through mixers, CE, and social events. We are looking for a representative from each county in to let us know what may be a good venue for a social event in your area. You don’t need to plan just identify some locations for us. Please e-mail me if you are interested in helping to let us know your area. 4 – Expanded Scope – We have discussed providing information about the Dental Therapist bill that is in the House. Sheila Bannister, RDH is our contact for this. If you are interested in helping to support legislative events in Montpelier or will contact your local representatives and would like some talking points, please let Sheila know. We have also surveyed hygienists across the state to identify interest in this provider. We also recognize that not all hygienists are interested in this new provider and will continue to provide support to all hygienists where their interest is. 5 – VDHA support growth of our profession. We will continue to hold CE courses across the state – see enclosed flyer. We are working to developing and expanding membership benefits. If you are interested in working on this, please contact me. We would like to develop a welcome package for new members as well as providing beneficial forms on the website to members. Provide social events to enhance the comradery among our colleagues across the state (class reunions, soirees, etc..). Have on going CE through local study groups. These was all developed as a result of the participation in the Mega Issues Discussion at our Annual meeting. If any of these sparked an interested and you would like to help with the planning or participation in an event, please let me know.

Also, for all those that attended the Bridging the Divide meeting you understand the value of your membership in ADHA. For those that did not attend, I would like to share how your membership supports OUR professional organization. When VDHA was approached about granting credit for the meeting, we agreed to grant 6.5 hours of clinical/didactic credit. It seems that in addition to consulting with the VDHA the meeting coordinator also submitted a request to the Vermont Board of Dental Examiners. The BDE decided that because it was not a “hands on” course that they could only grant non-clinical credit. Being the “Board” their decision for credit usurped ours. Directly after the meeting, I had an e-mail exchange with the Secretary for the Board. We were unable to resolve the credit issue and she indicated it would need to be place on the Board’s next agenda for a decision. On Wednesday, Dec 9, 2015, Heather Blair (President) and Ellen B. Grimes (Annual Meeting Planning Committee) representing the VDHA attended the Board of Dental Examiners meeting to follow up on the credit concern of some of our members. When this agenda item was brought up the consensus was that it should take about 8 minutes to decide the fate of the distribution of credit. In support of this change were Heather Blair (VDHA), Ellen Grimes (VDHA) and Vaughn Collins (VSDS). Please see our (dental hygienist) rules and regulations, rule 6.16 states: 6.16 Mandatory Continuing Education for Dental Hygienists. There was a 45-minute debate, in which VDHA reemphasized the importance a dental hygienist has in recognizing their role as part of the health care team. The responsibility they have in understanding HPV, pharmacology, the prevalence of caries throughout all stages of life, and communicating effectively with patients which were concepts presented at the meeting. The debate centered around whether or not the information presented had clinical application to what a dental hygienist does on a daily basis. The vote was far from unanimous and I am very pleased to report that we (dental hygienists) were granted 6.5 clinical/didactic credits from the Board of Dental Examiners.

For any of you that have ever wondered what their membership in their professional organization does for them, this is the answer. When there are concerns that threaten the scope of our practice, it is YOUR profession’s representatives that will continue to ensure that our license, scope of practice and our profession is represented. VDHA needs your support by continuing your membership or if you are not a member to join your professional association.

We are planning for our future – NOW! I hope that you are having a happy, healthy, and productive New Year! If you have questions, comments, concerns or some great information that you would like to share with our fellow colleagues. Please know that I am always available to you through e-mail: [email protected]