Margaret Lappan Green, RDH, MS, has been practicing clinical dental hygiene for more than 40 years. She served as the 80th president of ADHA from 2006 to 2007 and chair of the ADHA Institute for Oral Health from 2007 to 2008. She is the founding chair of the ADHA Toothfairy Campaign in partnership with the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation. She is also an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University (ODU), Gene W. Hirschfeld School of Dental Hygiene.
Green has received multiple awards including the Warner Lambert/ ADHA Award for Excellence in Dental Hygiene; ADHA Distinguished Service Award; ODU Outstanding Friend of Dental Hygiene Award; and the University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine, Alumnus Award.
She traveled to China in 1983 as an ambassador of the People To People Dental Hygiene Delegation, led the first-ever Dental Hygiene Delegation to Russia and Poland in 2007, and is currently the leader of the Dental Hygiene Delegation to South Africa.
What advice would you give to new dental hygienists?
I would advise new graduates to maintain balance in their daily lives. We need to strive for professional excellence and continual personal growth while also maintaining our physical well-being and our spiritual health. Those four pieces—personal, professional, physical, and spiritual—all need to be balanced. I believe that this balance leads to optimal health and we must be optimally healthy in order to give fully of ourselves. Two of my greatest mentors—my parents—instilled the value of always giving your best, and from this I have developed my philosophy of giving of SELF (S=service, E=evolves, L=living, F=fully). I believe that service to others and service to self evolves into living fully.
I would also encourage dental hygienists to pay attention and seek and create opportunities for themselves. If there is a person you admire and you’d like to develop some of those skills, go to that person and ask for help. Don’t sit back and wait for an invitation, pursue your own goals and pathways for growth and development. Also, diversify your career. We are very blessed to have a myriad of career opportunities available in addition to clinical practice in the profession of dental hygiene. I am just as excited today about dental hygiene as I was when I graduated because I continue to play many different roles, work with a variety of people, and truly appreciate how our profession is critical to the health and well being of our brethren.
Understanding yourself is a key to becoming an influential leader both professionally and personally. I read a lot in the area of leadership, which helps identify skills that I have and skills that I lack so I can develop those areas where I’m a bit shallow. It has taken a long time and some maturity, but I really do understand myself and what makes me tick. The better you understand yourself, the more effective you’ll be at helping and leading others. You can get to know yourself better through self-assessment. Evaluate yourself at the end of a task. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and then learn from them. My final piece of advice is to contribute to the well-being of organized dental hygiene. Without our association, our profession may be lost.