The dental hygiene community is reknowned for its generous spirit. There?s no shortage of places to donate your time and expertise?.and happily, there?s typically never a shortage of dental hygienists to fill the need.
For those starting to investigate volunteer opportunities, respected educator and author Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, MA, offers 9 points to think about??.
1. Pick an area that you enjoy ? oral health, children, seniors, gardening, speaking, animals, the environment, etc.
2. Check out the numerous sources online for seeking volunteering opportunities, your local newspaper, and area newsletters.
3. Create an opportunity where none has existed. Approach your local community resources ? senior centers, hospitals, botanical gardens, zoos, schools, animal shelters, etc. Most would be happy to let you serve.
4. Determine how much time you would like to devote ? 1 hour a week or a month. The beauty of volunteering is that you can determine how much time you wish to invest.
5. Your knowledge of dentistry makes you the "expert" in most community programs. Share with the many folks who do not have access to care. They will reward you with smiles, hugs, and gratitude!
6. Take advantage of certain months to promote special events regarding oral health. Use suggestions from the ADHA Web site in October to promote National Dental Hygiene Month, or get ideas from the ADA Web site in February to promote National Children's Dental Health Month.
7. Be bold. Choose to apply your many talents to a project that expands your knowledge in something you have always wanted to learn.
8. Be flexible! Go with the flow. My clinic at the Compassion Center consists of two folding chairs, a bathroom sink, and sheets held with PVC pipe for walls.
9. Begin building leadership skills. Professional organizations like the ADIA always need extra help. Step to the plate!
And here?s just a little help with tip number 2, whether you have wanderlust in your blood or you prefer to stick close to home: ADA International Dental Volunteer Opportunities , Special Olympics Healthy Athletes, Dental Volunteers for Israel, and International Smile Power. And of course, don?t forget your local and state dental hygiene and dental associations?they're great resources for learning about ways to give back.