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It's bad enough when a television show demeans the dental hygiene profession. When it's one of the most-watched shows, that's a whole different story. Kara RDH explains the reactions of hygienists.
To get you up to speed, if you haven’t already heard, on January 26, ABC’s The Bachelor posted on their Facebook page a compilation of 12 pictures depicting ridiculous and fake jobs that contestants have put on their applications over the years. Dental hygienist was included, among others like hashtag enthusiast, flatulence smell-reduction underwear tester, jewelry untangler, etc. You can see the post for yourself here. While the title of the pictures currently says, “Bachelor jobs are the best jobs!” please realize that this wasn’t the original title. It was edited. It originally said something to the effect of, “12 funniest and ridiculous job descriptions…”
[UPDATE: The offending image has now been removed from The Bachelor's Facebook page.]
Why should we care as hygienists? When I posted about this situation on my Facebook page, I was surprised there were a number of comments asking why we should care, and even saying we are being overly sensitive for being upset by this. You may not even watch the show, and further think it’s just a reality show, so no big deal. Simply put, even if you personally don’t watch the show, millions of members of the general public do. The Bachelor’s Facebook page alone has more than 1.5 million followers.
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Hygienists already have a hard enough time educating the general public on the importance of our services and role in preventive health, let alone getting the general public to realize we have a college education, must pass multiple board exams, and are licensed healthcare professionals. The last thing our profession needs is a widely viewed network and TV show marginalizing our profession. This is the core of why being included in the lists of jobs is offensive … we are educated, licensed professionals and our profession needs to be treated with a level of respect.
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So how should hygienists respond when there’s an attack on our profession? Very simply, we should respond professionally. A fine example is the response from our ADHA President Jill Rethman and the ADHA CEO Ann Battrell. They sent a letter to the President of ABC demanding an apology. See the response here. The Canada Dental Hygienists Association also sent a professional letter to the President of ABC, and you can see their response here.
A couple of thousand hygienists commented on The Bachelor’s Facebook page, and while most were passionate and professional, others were extremely unprofessional in nature. Let me be clear, vulgarity is not going to help our cause. If we want to be seen as a “real profession” and as the preventive healthcare professionals that we are, we must act this way. We can be angry without validating the beliefs that some may have of us. Having passion about our profession doesn’t require us to get vulgar to get our point across. Negativity may work in the very short term of showing our anger. However, as the long-term view on our profession is concerned, we don’t want to paint a picture of unprofessionalism to The Bachelor, ABC, or the public for that matter, as it validates them making a mockery of us. A few years ago, there was an incident on the television show The View, where nurses were offended at some remarks that were made. They took a professional tone and their message was heard loud and clear.
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Overall, we have a right to be upset and angry at the portrayal of our profession by The Bachelor. This isn’t a case of getting offended over a “micro-aggression” or political correctness run amok. We were portrayed as a joke of a job to an audience that numbers in the millions. However, we must respond accordingly. I give major kudos to the ADHA and CDHA in their responses and to the thousands of hygienists who made their voices heard in a professional, yet passionate, way.