Friday, February 15, 2008
The scope of my last semester's study of Dental Hygiene (the course not the program as a whole) covers the topic of Ethics and Jurisprudence. In 4 weeks of textbook reading, website searches and classroom discussions I have discovered that I'm not sure I like the business of dentistry. Those who are employed in the field of dentistry are expected by the dental profession and by the public at large who receive dental "services" to uphold a code of ethics. This is all well and good. I have read and found great wisdom in the code of ethics for my profession and will have no problem adhering to what seems to be a reasonable set of principles that will guide and govern my practice. This code, however, seems only to exist in a dream world. I have left class every Friday feeling like my contribution to the health of the community bubble has been savagely crushed by fear of litigation and of dentists who are businessmen, not public servants-or at least individuals who are concerned with the overall welfare of their patients. Codes of ethics have been replaced by what insurance companies will pay for and by how much malpractice insurance you have. Yet we are still expected to uphold the code. I am not interested in working for a dentist who has no problem sending a patient away because he can't pay for a procedure that he needs (because thats super ethical right there). Nor am I interested in spending the first few years being afraid that I'm going to be sued because a guy with gingivitis bled while I cleaned his teeth. Here's where hypocrisy fits in. I wanted to be a hygienist because I was attracted to a stable and ample paycheck and and environment that allows me to spend time with my family. Oh yeah, and I want to make sure people are healthy too. Having almost finished school I still like the idea of having a nice paycheck, but now realize just how important my role is in keeping people healthy and preventing disease. I also have just realized how scared I am to find a job and to find one where I don't have to choose between my personal values/ethical code that I have taken on and ultimately selling out (working for a businessman) for a paycheck. I guess I'd have to decide if the paycheck is worth it. I could work for an inner city clinic, though that has it's own red tape issues probably just as frustrating as the ones I've just described. Though I have to say, I'm tired of being poor. I don't need to be rich by any means-but I also don't want to have to borrow from the family or throw hundreds of dollars on a credit card that I will spend 3 years paying off because my oil pan needs to be replaced....oi. Such weighty thoughts for a Friday evening. I'm going to ignore them now and watch American Gladiators.