The Value of a $10 Gift Card

By Larry Darnell, FDA Director of Information Systems

In light of Facebook’s personal data issues several months ago, there are more things out there that we never even think twice about. What about the innocent looking email that asks you to fill out a simple survey for a $10 gift card or perhaps a chance to win a larger prize? Most people never give those a second thought. You fill out that survey and even if you use a throwaway email address (with so many free email services, you can create one that you hardly ever check and use for just such an occasion), you still provide valuable data to the company or the people who sponsored the survey. The value of your personal information is much higher than you think.

There’s already so much data mining (personal data compiled into a profile about you) going on. One day my wife and I were talking about backpacks for a trip; the next day my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Amazon shopping feeds were flooded with ads related to backpacks. So, who gave them that information? I never Googled it. Alexa heard me and so did Siri. Talk about Big Brother listening to me! I wanted to break out the tinfoil hats and go off the grid for a while.

We provide so much personal information when we use the internet, smartphones and tablets, and don’t even realize it. Facebook didn’t even have to try very hard. Several quizzes about which Kardashian you resemble and we have given up a lot of our personal information for free. So, what are we to do in the aftermath of this?

Here are five things to remember:

  1. Guard your personal information. There’s no need to give it away for nothing, and trust me, $10 is a bargain for your personal data. Are those $10 gift cards worth the risk?
  2. Never assume there are private communications on a public internet. Anything you put on the internet (social media, email, etc.) can and will be seen, heard and shared with others. This includes Snapchat and other sites that say they are “secure.”
  3. Use all security measures that are afforded to you by the devices you use. If that means encrypted emails or a virtual private network, then use them. Be careful about using open Wi-Fi (a password isn’t required to use it). Nothing is free, and although open Wi-Fi may appear free, it could cost you greatly in the end.
  4. Keep a tight rein on your personal brand. If that means regular credit bureau checks, services that monitor “risky” websites for your data or even staying off social media altogether, then do what is necessary to protect yourself. Once your identity is stolen, it’s nearly impossible to get it back.
  5. Treat your virtual world like you would your real world. If you would not do or say something face to face, in person, then why do it in a virtual world? If a stranger showed up at your door asking a slew of questions, you’d probably slam the door in their face. On the internet, we give them what they want and more.

Bonus tip: The next time you install an application on your smartphone, visit a website or use software on your computer, take a moment and read the terms and conditions that you blindly click to accept. You’ll be shocked by what you are agreeing to without even considering the consequences.

This article first appeared in Today’s FDA, July/August 2018, Vol. 30, No. 5.

How to Spring Clean Your Career as a Dental Professional

By Julie Morris, Life and Career Coach

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to stop with your house. While your banishing dust bunnies from your home, consider giving your dental career a little organizational attention as well. Take a look at your professional life, think about what you would like to do differently, then develop a plan to refresh your career this year. Whether it’s making a career change or aiming higher in your field, these tips can help you organize your professional life and focus on your goals.

Consider a Career Change

Dental career paths can go in a number of directions. If you’re not thrilled about the work you’re doing right now, start thinking about jobs you would enjoy more. According to the American Dental Association, many dentists and dental hygienists find employment in non-clinical settings such as education, marketing, public health and research. Finding a career in one of these fields gives dental professionals an opportunity to use their valuable skills in a different way.

Rework Your Resume

Before you start job hunting, take the time to revamp your resume. Career Builder reports that nearly 40 percent of hiring managers spend less than 60 seconds looking at a resume. You’ve got to make your first impression quickly! When written and organized properly, a resume will help highlight your best features. A functional resume is best for people who have employment gaps, several past jobs, or no work experience in the field they’re applying to. Functional resumes put your skills and expertise on display instead of listing your work history by date. For dental professionals who are switching careers, this is essential.

Manage Your Online Reputation

Online reputation management is another important part of making yourself look exceptional to hiring managers. Hate websites or scam alerts can be extremely damaging to your future career prospects and business endeavors. Many times, these kinds of online reputation attacks are illegal. If you can prove the information they’re spreading is false, consider taking legal action. A skilled legal professional and online analysis team can help you find information on your attackers so that you can begin the process of having this content removed.

Even if your online reputation hasn’t been attacked, it won’t hurt to clean up your online presence. It’s easy for employers to discover how you conduct yourself in your social and professional life. Do a simple Google search of your name. What comes up? Delete anything questionable from your social media, including posts about controversial topics, like politics or religion. Finally, polish up your LinkedIn profile to emphasize your professional expertise.

Grow Your Network

While you already have a professional network, finding new networking contacts can speed up your career change and open up new opportunities. Stay in touch with your old network, though. These people offer motivating encouragement and may have connections with contacts that can help you out. Then, seek out experienced professionals in your desired career. Connect with recruiters, media, academics, and industry analysts. Branching out your network may help you land a job you would not have found otherwise.

Identify Gaps in Your Skills

It’s never too late to go back to school. While your dental training may carry over into your new industry, improving your skill set can expand your opportunities. This is true even if your desired job doesn’t require any special qualifications. Every professional will benefit from learning some key skills — public speaking, management, negotiation, research and critical thinking skills can boost any career.

You can take some classes at night or online while you continue to work your current job. Identify areas where you could improve and look into classes that can help you out. Classes in business writing, communication, electronic marketing, software, programming and entrepreneurship are all excellent options.

Even if you’re not switching careers at the moment, these tips can come in handy for organizing your current professional life. Keep your resume up to date, be careful about what you post online, grow your professional network and continue learning new skills. Cleaning up your career will keep you focused on your bigger goals and help you identify areas where you can make improvements.

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. More information can be found on her website at

Today’s FDA is Online Now!

The March/April issue of Today’s FDA is online now! Go to to read this issue.

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Volunteer at the Florida Mission of Mercy!

Thank you to all who have already registered to volunteer at this year’s Florida Mission of Mercy! There is still time to sign up — join us on March 22-23 at Edgewater High School in Orlando and help bring relief from dental pain to thousands of patients. To learn more, watch the video below and visit to sign up today!