Dental Hygienist Meets Pen Pal After More Than 20 Years of Correspondence
Graduating from dental hygiene school at Lake Superior College in Duluth Minnesota in 2006, Sherry Morrissey, RDH, began her first job as a dental hygienist in Fosston, Minnesota.
Graduating from dental hygiene school at Lake Superior College in Duluth Minnesota in 2006, Sherry Morrissey, RDH, began her first job as a dental hygienist in Fosston, Minnesota. With fewer than 2,000 residents, Fosston is the epitome of a small town. After 2 years, Morrissey moved to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where she’s been practicing dental hygiene for the past 11 years at Riverside Dental. She performs a variety of tasks besides clinical dental hygiene, including making recare appointments, answering phone calls when the front desk is occupied, providing patients with premedication reminders, confirming appointments, and performing sterilization duties.
Her favorite part of the job is working with patients to prevent tooth loss. Morrissey commented, “I’ve never met a patient who raves about his or her dentures. I pride myself on providing education to ensure patients maintain their oral health. I had braces as a teenager and I remember my dental hygienist always being so engaging and informative about oral health. She really loved her job and I wanted to do the same thing when I grew up.”
While Morrissey loves her work as a dental hygienist, she is concerned about an overcrowded job market. “I hope to see fewer schools pumping out new graduates every year into this profession. We are saturated as it is. I really feel for new graduates who are so excited to start their careers, but who’s hiring? A few graduates from my class had to wait 3 years before finding part-time positions.”
One of Morrissey’s hobbies outside of dental hygiene is the art of letter writing. She recently met her pen pal of 22 years, Dora Chavez, for the first time in San Francisco. They began corresponding when each was 15, and they had never spoken on the phone or emailed. Morrissey explained, “It’s always been pen to paper. For the past 22 years, we have each written about two letters a month. I keep them all in a huge tote in my garage. We decided to finally meet in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in September. I recognized her right away sitting on the pier overlooking Alcatraz.”
Morrissey is glad to have such a friendship and fondly remembers writing and receiving letters. “Our friendship is unique and special, as letter writing is a lost art. When I was a student, I would write to her about how school was so intense and wondered if I’d ever get through it. As I look back, it was all worth it. I love my work.”
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From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. April 2019;17(4):13.