You heard these words while you possibly were in dental hygiene school: “Become a member of your professional organization for x, y, z, reason(s).” Like many hygienists, you might have heard this as yet another piece of advice that you may or may not follow depending upon a number of reasons − usually time and cost.
Quite possibly, you may have been overwhelmed by everything else tugging at your shirttails throughout dental hygiene school, and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) was the last thing on your mind.
The Student American Dental Hygienists’ Association (SADHA), of course, was likely mandatory in your program, and your instructors/professors/directors of your program led the way in scheduling meetings and guiding decision making. Therefore, it makes complete sense that you may not completely understand the value that the ADHA can provide for new and seasoned hygienists alike.
Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits that come with being a member of the ADHA.
ADHA Membership Benefits
Fortunately, the ADHA is incredibly thoughtful and gifts new graduates a complimentary trial membership.1 New graduates surely will appreciate this gift. After all, they have received their degrees, but now face mounds of debt that was incurred with tuition, supplies, instrument kits, and examination fees − not to mention the cost in obtaining their state licenses.
Benefits for Students
Students often may not know how the ADHA is supporting them. The ADHA can assist students in preparation for the National Dental Hygiene Board examinations by offering online study courses, discounts on student guides, and access to online communities with live exam review courses.
The ADHA is valuable in presenting a plethora of networking opportunities for students, providing exposure to some of the top professionals and organizations in the industry. Networking can be advantageous for students when navigating their search for the right dental hygiene setting for their future employment. Participating in their local, state, and national annual sessions can help students begin charting the course for lifelong careers in dental hygiene.
Not only does networking serve students, but it can also likewise assist hygienists of five, ten, twenty, or more years in practice. One can never network enough!
The ADHA offers additional support to hygienists who may be searching for a job. The Career Center allows professionals to reference resume templates while also encouraging online resume postings. The Career Center is a valuable resource for networking, as well as providing information regarding updates within state licensing authorities and accredited institutions.
Other opportunities that ADHA offers students are exposure to scholarships and awards for being active leaders in their SADHA components. According to the ADHA website:
The ADHA Institute for Oral Health was created to provide educational scholarships, fellowships, research grants and community service grants to dental hygienists throughout the country. As an ADHA member, you can obtain funding for your academic and professional career and expand your leadership potential by applying for a scholarship or grant that meets your specific goals.
If this is not enough to light one’s fire, the ADHA also presents several awards each year to students and registered dental hygienists. The Student Presentation and Awards Program, also known as Table Clinic and Poster Session, awards students up to $1,000 for sharing the knowledge they gather through research and presentation skills. These awards are given at the annual session, which is being held this year in New Orleans on June 11-14.
Another reward grants one student delegate in each district the potential opportunity to attend the annual session with all expenses paid. Gaining exposure to a large-scale dental hygiene event such as the annual session has the potential to ignite a future hygienist’s passion for their career, which hopefully creates increased awareness of the unsurmountable value the ADHA is providing hygienists across the nation.
Students also benefit when they move on to professional membership. The ADHA collaborates with many businesses to offer discounts to members. One example of recent savings for myself was $45 savings through GEICO every six months with my car and household insurance. Other discounts include hotel stays (usually 10-20%, but sometimes up to 50% off) and car rentals (up to 35% off).2 For a complete list of these savings, click here.
In addition, ADHA partners with Mercer Consumer, a service of Mercer Health & Benefits Administration LLC. The various insurance programs include professional liability, disability, life, dental, vision, and even pet insurance.3 Members have the flexibility and convenience to choose the plans that best meet their personal needs. For some dental professionals, these options may be the only way they might have access to these types of services.
Speaking of saving money, for instance, Omaha’s local component offers free continuing education (CE) meetings to ADHA members. Considering we have approximately four local meetings that host two credit hour CE’s at about $15 per credit, members would save $120 a year − just on CE fees! Give your local component the opportunity to show you what they might have to offer their members. The ADHA website offers access to live webinars and online CEs, which often are at no cost to the member.
With just these savings, ADHA membership is putting money back into the pockets of its members − almost the amount that it costs for yearly dues, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Who doesn’t like saving money?
While saving money is great fun for everyone, the blood, sweat, and tears that go with advocacy is incredible. Not long ago, the Nebraska Dental Board was faced with resistance from some dentists within the state regarding the placement of silver diamine fluoride by hygienists. When the board heard arguments for and against, the Nebraska Dental Hygienists’ Association (NDHA) showed up as advocates for the profession of dental hygiene. Hours of research were conducted to have all t’s crossed and I’s dotted to be prepared for fighting the good fight. The placement of silver diamine fluoride by hygienists would serve the population in Nebraska, especially the underserved.
Without the NDHA involved with that case, the profession of dental hygiene very well could have come out on the bottom that day. Instead, hygienists’ voices were heard! Unfortunately, the voice of dental hygiene is often not heard, because many hygienists might not understand that a few hundred-dollar investment in their professional organization yearly can do so much for their career.
The ADHA offers support to hygienists who may be searching for a job. The Career Center allows professionals to reference resume templates while also encouraging online resume postings. The Career Center is a valuable resource for networking, as well as providing information regarding updates within state licensing authorities and accredited institutions.
Another example of networking that has become popular has been communication through social media forums monitored by state dental hygiene associations. The Colorado Dental Hygienists’ Association (CODHA), for example, hosts an online forum on Facebook that allows hygienists to ask questions from licensing requirements to sharing upcoming events that might garner interest among local participants, as well as employment opportunities.
Alyssa Aberle, the executive administrator of CODHA, has been pivotal in providing information to local hygienists, especially when it comes to licensing questions. If there is a question regarding CE requirements, for example, she will post the exact verbiage seen in the state practice act. Her positive, active involvement through this part-time contracted position has affected the overall culture and presence of the dental hygiene community to being “one community” that serves the dental hygiene needs of the Colorado public more effectively.
Change Your Mind About ADHA Membership
It was not long ago that I was not an active member of ADHA. Quite frankly, I did not know what I was missing out on and now feel embarrassed that I did not appreciate my professional organization. Being an active member was required of my Bachelor of Applied Science program at Community College of Denver.
At the time, I was not looking forward to another expense while already paying for books, fees, and tuition. However, the ADHA website became invaluable when performing research for papers and projects. The value of the website has followed me into my dental hygiene educator role as I use it to download up-to-date, evidence-based research to share in my classes. Not only can I access resources, but students also have access to research articles and materials needed to serve alongside their dental hygiene educational experience.
Additional resources available can be utilized in daily operations at one’s workplace, which includes Spanish and English materials that can serve a wider array of patients.
This article does not even begin to do justice to the advantages the ADHA can bring to your dental hygiene career. Whether you are a student, seasoned hygienist, public health professional, researcher, or educator, the ADHA will be right beside you along the way, to support and advocate for your beloved career as a dental hygienist.
After all, the ADHA’s mission is to unite and empower hygienists to enhance the public’s oral and overall health. We need one another to achieve this mission.
Please take the time today to check out the official website and browse the vast amount of information you will continually find at your fingertips!4 Take the leap and join today.
Now Listen to the Today’s RDH Dental Hygiene Podcast Below:
- Types of Membership. American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Retrieved from https://www.adha.org/types-of-membership
- Member Affinity Programs. American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Retrieved from https://www.adha.org/resources-docs/74110_Membership_Affinity_Programs.pdf
- Explore Your Benefits Portal. American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Retrieved from https://www.adhainsurance.com/
- American Dental Hygienists’ Association. Retrieved from https://www.adha.org/