24/7 Featured Articles
ADAA 24/7 Featured Articles
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ADAA Education and Credentialing of Dental Assistants
by Dr. Carolyn Breen, ADAA President
ADAA is the voice of dental assistants to the public and to all professional communities of interest. ADAA in collaboration with other notable professional organizations is working to advance and promote initiatives for quality care and patient protection in meeting the current and changing needs of the dental community. Our ability to be flexible and open-minded in adapting to the evolving health care environment is critical to our future as allied dental professionals and to our ability to best serve the public.
The ADAA is focused on two major themes: standardized credentialing and education of dental assistants to assure competency and safeguard the welfare of the public; and the need for enhanced recognition of the critical role dental assistants play in the provision of quality care as vital members of the dental health team.
From the first “Lady in Attendance” or female attendant in the dental office to the dental assistant of the present, the scope of practice and responsibilities delegated to dental assistants has changed drastically over the years. Depending upon the state in which one is employed, there are a variety of significant intraoral procedures performed by chairside dental assistants on patients on a daily basis.
In order to appropriately prepare to enter a highly demanding yet rewarding allied health career in dental assisting, interested individuals should be required to attend a formal dental assisting program as there are many critical areas in which individuals should achieve a sound knowledge base prior to employment in any dental practice setting. Mastery of pertinent information will allow dental assistants to translate background information into sound clinical practice protocols to assure high standards of quality patient care and public protection. In addition to finely honed business/front office, laboratory, radiology and chair side skills, the role of dental assistants also includes community outreach. Therefore, dental assistants also need to provide oral hygiene instruction, nutritional counseling and overall general health information to members of the community to enhance their well-being.
The initiatives of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) include but are not limited to: promoting formal education and credentialing of all dental assistants nationally and assuring adequate preparation and clinical competency of all dental assistants as part of best practices in dentistry for patient protection.
Multiple unfortunate cases have arisen in several areas across the country in which unqualified individuals performed tasks for which they were not adequately prepared. These cases serve as a reminder that all dental professionals .....Click here to read the complete article.
Effectively Dealing With and Adapting to Change
by Dr. Carolyn Breen, ADAA President
When change occurs, responses often include statements like “ I like things the way they are”, “this is the way we have always done it”, I wish they had just left things the way they were”. In order to effectively manage change, there are some strategies which may be helpful to better adapt to change. Change means growth, which is usually healthy. However, even the best changes in our lives have often been accompanied with a degree of stress and anxiety. Even good change is often hard with which to deal effectively and, change is almost always met with resistance. The person who initiates change is usually unpopular as, change breads unfamiliarity which requires courage.
In that many people are not completely comfortable with the thought of incorporating something new, there are some physical and emotional reactions to change which may occur. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms so that they can be recognized and, if needed, addressed appropriately. Some negative symptoms include, but are not limited to; nervousness, stress , fear, anger , depression, fatigue, guilt, denial. However, there are also many positive reactions to change which can be very invigorating. These manifestations include; greater optimism, camaraderie, happiness, increased energy level, renewed sense of excitement and an increased sensitivity to others.
Preparing for and dealing with change is important. Successful individuals are able to deal with change and recognize the positive effects that change can bring. Although, be aware that you may encounter individuals or groups possessing attitudes which may hinder change. Some issues of which you should be aware are the fear of risk taking, resistance and “push back”, loss of motivation, excessive anxiety, closed mindedness, apathy and “projection” which often results in comments like, “someone else can handle it”. You may also find yourself faced with the “I can’t” syndrome.
One of the most effective ways to deal with change is to discuss it with others. Seek dialogue with those who have recently experienced major change as, they may be of support and assistance. Change will not always be stressful or painful. However, it is often helpful to focus on past changes that have occurred and reflect on their smallness, after the fact, as compared with how they appeared while experiencing the change. To facilitate change and be better prepared, get involved, seek assistance, expect mistakes and take action to correct and focus on a positive outcome. Try to reduce the fear of risk taking , communicate and maintain a positive perspective. When dealing with change it is also helpful to identify the change that you wish to make or that which will be made, like it or not.
Try to embrace the process by listing the differences between the current scenario and that which is anticipated to exist when the change occurs. Attempt to project where you would like to be or will find yourself in the near and distant future and identify areas that will be affected subsequent to the change in order to prepare.
With the progress of time, nothing stays the same. Therefore, it is best to accept the inevitable and work with change rather than to have it thrust upon you!
Coaching Skills For Managers and Supervisors - Fred Pryor Seminars, 2005
Balancing Act – Managing Emotions Under Pressure Bryant, Holly Dental Office Magazine – 2007
Cornerstone: Building on your Best, Prentice Hall 2002 Sherfield, Montgomery and Moodey, Upper Saddle River, NJ
Succeeding in the World of Work, 6th ed.; 1998, Glencoe/Mcgraw-Hill A division of the McGraw-Hill Companies, Kimbrell and Vineyard
Interpersonal Communication Skills For Health Professionals, 2nd ed. Mcgraw-Hill, Cynthia H. Adams and Peter D. Jones, 2000
Start Right, Stay Right…Lead Right, Every Leader’s Straight Talk Guide to Job Success – Ventura, Steve, The Walk The Talk Co., Flower Mound, TX 2008
by Pat Pearson, CDA, ADAA Nominating Chair
The American Dental Assistants Association is planning for the future and requests your assistance in nominating potential leaders for the coming year. All of us know a dental assistant who is highly motivated, organized, and thoughtful, with a passion for dental assisting and the ADAA. These are all qualities that are necessary for successful leaders.
Active, Life, or Special members are eligible to serve as officers and must have served as an ADAA State District Trustee or a member of an ADAA Council and elected officer of a State Association. Nominations are being accepted for the following offices for 2014.
- President-Elect – three year commitment. The President-elect will serve as President the second year and Immediate Past President the third year.
- Vice-President – one year term
- Secretary – one year term
The major responsibilities can be found here:
State District Trustees
A State District Trustee shall be a legal resident of the district which he/she represents. The Trustee shall be an active, life or special member and shall have served as a member of an ADAA committee or council or as an officer of a State Association.
The ADAA is also seeking nominations for the following State District Trustees. Trustees serve a three year term once elected and may serve two consecutive full terms.
- First District – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
- Fourth District – Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
- Eighth District – Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska
- Eleventh District - Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
- Student Trustee
Any active, life, or special member of the ADAA, a Student Chapter, Local or State Organization, or a trustee district may nominate candidates for Student Trustee. The Student Trustee must be a Student member of the ADAA, a member of a SADAA Chapter and graduate from a dental assisting program of at least 800 hours within 12 months of the application deadline. The Student Trustee will serve a term of one year and may serve two consecutive terms.
Councils and Committees
Active, life and special members are also needed to serve on ADAA Councils and Committees. A listing of current Councils and Committees and an application form may be found at:
Please thoughtfully consider serving as an officer or district trustee, or volunteering for a Council or Committee. Your thoughts, concerns and vision regarding dental assisting will help to move the association forward and provide enhanced benefits to its members. All nominations and volunteer forms must be received by the ADAA central office by June 30, 2013.
Pat Pearson, CDA
ADAA Nominating Chair
Achieving Success in the Workplace as Dental Assistants
by Dr. Carolyn Breen, ADAA President
As dental assistants and valuable members of the dental health team, it is important to master the skills of being an effective co -worker. In performing a self –assessment, which is critical for our enhancement and growth, dental assistants should consider the following characteristics relative to their performance and personal work ethic.
A skilled team member is one who is not only able to produce desired results themselves but, to also assist in moving others into action. In order to do so, we need to be supportive, respectful and encouraging to others. Effective oral and written communication skills are essential. To work effectively in teams, support and collaboration are necessary. In addition to possessing the technical skills critical to the performance of specific dental discipline tasks, we need to project positive self -esteem and exhibit a professional demeanor. We should not only enhance our skills through continuing education as life - long learners but, also think and act creatively to enhance our ability to contribute to the overall success of the team.
It is essential to develop a positive attitude and demonstrate enthusiasm. If we think negatively, the results will often be much the same. In order for things to be different , we need to be open to doing something different. Although we may not be able to control an event or situation, we do have control over our thoughts and actions in response. Therefore, it is important to be able to adapt to change, accept challenges and assume responsibility and accountability for our actions.
Characteristics of successful teams include shared leadership, support, recognition, involvement, accomplishment and an enjoyable work environment. As a team member, make the goals of the team your priority. Therefore, when dealing with other team members, we need to be considerate and responsive even if not reciprocated. Do not be afraid to compliment others. Provide feedback, praise and recognize accomplishments of the team and individuals of the team. As part of a team, the success and accomplishments of others should be viewed as a shared success. Do more than is expected. Whether a task is considered part of your direct role or not, be willing to assist others in completion of tasks for the overall good of the group. Make an effort to understand others while respecting their privacy.
Keep in mind that you have the right to express yourself and to have self needs as important as the needs of others as long as the rights of others are not violated. You may certainly also appropriately decline requests without having to feel guilty or selfish. Therefore, listen actively and respect the opinion of others. Offer only constructive suggestions when asked.
If you offer to do something, follow-up. Practice effective time management by tracking how time is spent in an effort to identify ways for better time efficiency. Develop a “to do” list and establish priorities by breaking large projects into small steps. Complete priority items and difficult tasks first. Develop an estimated time line for completion by developing a schedule. Use your time and that of others wisely.
Success measured by the results achieved. Be inclusive of others and share knowledge to assist others. Provide leadership, negotiate to arrive at decisions which will be for the overall good of the team. Maintain confidentiality and be fair in all dealings. By all means, it is critical to maintain workplace etiquette while also keeping a sense of humor. Become self- aware by knowing your strengths and your weaknesses. You have the right to make mistakes however, own your shortcomings. Develop sound strategies to turn identified weaknesses into new strengths. As outlook often determines outcomes through self-fulfilling prophecy, develop personal strategies to be positive. Keep in mind that positive people attract positive things. To assist in increasing team morale, place the needs of the group first. Highlight the ultimate impact of the team’s effort, relate to people rather than tasks, seek input from all team members, acknowledge and address frustration, collaborate and involve the team in setting and reaching goals. Also remember that being a healthy worker includes good health which is more than freedom from pain and illness. Individuals need mental and physical energy to accomplish tasks. To enhance a healthy state, evaluate your diet, exercise, rest, and stress management.
When evaluating your success in the workplace as a dental assistant through self- assessment, determine your score for the following:, cooperativeness, self-management, initiative, assuming responsibility, completing tasks, willingness to learn, following direction, loyalty, collegiality, clinical competency, and ethical behavior.
What is your grade?
- Coaching Skills For Managers and Supervisors - Fred Pryor Seminars, 2005
- Balancing Act – MANAGING Emotions Under Pressure Bryant, Holly Dental Office Magazine – 2007
- Dealing With Difficult People, Career Track, Park University, 2003
- Time Management and Organizational Skills, Rockhurst University , 2005
- Cornerstone: Building on your Best, Prentice Hall 2002 Sherfield, Montgomery and Moodey, Upper Saddle River, NJ
- Start Right, Stay Right…Lead Right, Every Leader’s Straight Talk Guide to Job Success – Ventura, Steve, The Walk The Talk Co., Flower Mound, TX 2008
Proposed Bill for Registration of Dental Assistants in Nevada to be heard Wednesday April 3, 2103
by Shari Peterson, RDH, M.Ed., Nevada Dental Hygienists Association-Legislative Chair
The Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association has put forth AB 324 to the Nevada Legislature which would require all dental assistants in Nevada to have specific education and accountability in radiation safety and infection control. The bill asks for dental assistants to obtain and maintain CPR certification and also to successfully pass a jurisprudence test on the Nevada Dental Practice Act. Additionally the bill would allow for registration of dental assistants who have obtained their CDA. The bill directs the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners to separate the duties delegable to dental assistants and registered dental assistants.
Dental assistants and dental assisting educators asked for the assistance of the Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association in helping move forward education and accountability requirements and more specifically registration of dental assistants in Nevada. Because the Nevada state component of the ADAA is not formally active and because there is a low percentage of CDA’s in Nevada, they needed the assistance of the NDHA to advocate on behalf of dental assistants and the public.
The issue is really a matter of social responsibility from within the profession and patient protection. Nevada has no formal education or accountability requirements for dental assistants. Dental assistants can be on-the-job trained so there is a lack of incentive to obtain formal dental assisting education. There are approximately 12 recognized dental assisting program in Nevada, only 2 are accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation; College of Southern Nevada and Truckee Meadows Community College. Some dentists even offer 10 week training programs in their private practices as a formal education. Currently a dentist need only sign an attestation that his dental assistants have been trained in radiation safety. A dental assistant can be trained in radiation safety and technique by the dentist, a hygienist or a CDA through on the job training. The residents of Nevada should have some assurance that those individuals who are working on them in the dental office have adequate education and understanding of their responsibilities. This includes all members of the dental team; dentist, hygienist and assistant. Dental assistants are a valuable member of the team and should be afforded the opportunity to be recognized for their level of knowledge through CDA achievement. This can provide greater assurance to Nevadans.
ADAA responds to oral health concerns in Oklahoma and Colorado
Both Oklahoma and Colorado are in the process of investigating oral surgeons who did not use standard infection control precautions, putting patients at risk. State and local health officials in Oklahoma are mailing over 7,000 notices to patients informing them that they need to be tested for HBV, HCV and HIV, while in Colorado, the Department of Public Health has informed 8,000 patients of possible exposure to HBV, HCV and HIV. At this time, three patients have tested positive for HCV that can be directly connected to the Colorado oral surgeon.
What do these two cases have in common? Both dentists employed some dental assistants who may not have been fully educated about the law and who apparently did not properly sterilize instruments, or properly monitor sterilizers. According to the Associated Press (AP), Dr. Harrington left questions on how to sterilize instruments and drug procedures up to his employees. Did the employees know how to implement these important steps? The AP reports that the last known record of sterilizer monitoring occurred over six years ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings (2003) recommend monitoring of sterilizers take place once a week. Did the dental assistants know this? If a properly educated dental assistant was working in this office, they would have known how often to monitor their sterilizers, how to check for outdated drug vials, and they would have known that it was illegal for a dental assistant to start an IV in Oklahoma.
Patients assume that the individual assisting the dentist is highly educated and licensed or registered as required by the state. But for many dental assistants, this is not the case as some states view it as the dentist’s responsibility to ensure their staff is performing procedures correctly. However, this raises several questions: Does the dentist know how to perform the many clinical skills necessary to be a good dental assistant? If so, does the dentist even have time to teach these important skills to the dental assistants? Dentists are trained in dentistry, not in clinical dental assisting, and often the behind-the-scenes expertise is left to the uneducated clinical dental assistant.
The American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) believes that dental assistants have a responsibility to monitor themselves and inform their patients about the importance of licensed or registered dental assistants as part of the dental team. Unfortunately many trained-on-the-job assistants can be taught improper sterilization techniques by others who were also improperly trained. A means to address this issue is for strict guidelines and training for infection control and sterilization to be instituted in the same way as several states have instituted guidelines with radiography – these guidelines should be applied equally in ALL states and not just a few.
ADAA supports education and credentialing of dental assistants nationwide in order to assure that dental assistants have a comprehensive understanding of state dental practice acts containing legally delegated responsibilities for dental assistants, as well as a thorough knowledge of infection control and appropriate treatment protocols and knowledge of many other critical aspects of dental assisting responsibilities related to high standard quality care and patient protection.
by Robynn Rixse, CDA, EFDA, PDAA/LCDAS President
On April 29, 2010 HB 602/Act 19 was signed into law and became effective on June 28, 2010. This law expanded the scope of practice for Expanded Function Dental Assistants licensed in Pennsylvania to include coronal polishing, fluoride placement and taking impressions for athletic mouthguards. The SBOD also set new continuing education requirements for these procedures. In order to renew an EFDA license by the March 31, 2013 deadline all EFDA’s (with three exceptions) must have completed a 3 credit hands on/lecture CE course on Coronal Polishing and Fluoride Placement.
Due to the limited number of courses available and the desire to meet the needs of our members, the Lancaster County Dental Assistants Society began discussions with various associations, companies and organizations within the dental community to try and put together a high quality course that would meet the necessary continuing education requirements. In January of 2012 all arrangements were finalized. LCDAS partnered with Kathy Schlotthauer RDH, BS, Harrisburg Area Community College, Tonda Harvey from Premier Dental who provided supplies to be used for clinical, as well as goody bags for each attendee, the Academy of Dental Hygiene who provided the CE certificates and a membership grant from ADAA. In all 11 classes were held between February 2012 and February 2013 with a total of 343 EFDA’s in attendance.
At each class, membership in the ADAA was offered. Each attendee was given an application as well as an Education catalog and when possible a copy of the Dental Assisting Journal. We began by focusing on two main benefits for this particular target audience, malpractice and continuing education. Emphasis was placed on the importance of malpractice coverage for EFDA’s due to their increased potential for liability within their expanded scope of practice. Most EFDA’s were surprised to learn that it just became a requirement in September 2012 for dentists in Pennsylvania to have malpractice insurance. We then discussed the continuing education requirements for EFDA’s (10 CE’s every two years, half of which can be done online) as well as the PA DEP requirement of 4 CE’s in radiology every 4 years for all dental auxillaries. Using the ADAA education catalog we pointed out the 5 CE Radiology course on page 9. The nonmember cost is $81, as members this course alone would save them more than half of the cost of their membership. Many of our EFDA’s came from areas where CE courses were not readily available making the online courses especially attractive. For those who were closer we were able to point out the savings that could be received from attending the CE courses offered by the State Associations and Local Societies that they would become part of. Putting all of these features together we were able to showcase benefits that actually applied to each individual. Over 30 new members were added during the 11 courses. One EFDA stated “that she had been an assistant for over 44 years and had never had ADAA membership presented to her in a manner that made her feel as if it was of any benefit to her until now”.
The past year has been hectic and overwhelming at times as we worked to show that we support not only our members but all dental assistants and the profession itself. As always we focused on our motto, “United in a common goal to promote dental assisting as a profession”. It was exciting to add new members to our roster and help them become the best dental assistants they could be.
by Hollie A. Bryant, RDA, Founder, Bryant Dental Consultants
Have you ever felt like your career in dentistry was at a stand still? That you really love what you do, but things are feeling a bit stale?
Well, this can be a common symptom to any career, but it doesn’t mean that you are at a dead end nearing the end of the road or even need a career change. Often times it can be as simple as changing up your daily routine for pateint care, or seeking out something more within your profession like expanding your career path in dentistry.
If you have ever felt that you have more to offer than what you are currently doing, or that you have something to share with others and do not know how to get your voice heard, then you definitely understand what I was feeling 10 years ago. The need for more and an opportunity to make a difference somehow was lingering on my mind daily. I wanted to be in one of those dental magazines because my ideas and processes were just as powerful as what I was reading.
I wanted more, but had no concept or guidance to get there, more or less know what there really was. I didn’t know what all was available. I didn’t understand how to get involved or where to start. Heck, I didn’t even know how to write, but what I did know is that I wanted to do it all. My energy, my excitement and my passion was all in place, it was the guidance that I was missing.
Where do I start? How do I start? I reached out to the ADAA for assistance and found out that they welcomed new voices that are seeking to be heard. This was where it all can start for you. The ADAA is offering up an open door of opportunity for a new writer like yourself that is seeking to get their voice heard. This is your chance to be heard.
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An Interview with Diane Grondin
O the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been as a result of my membership in ADAA are priceless. I decided to become a dental assistant in the fall of my senior year in high school, as I had no particular plans after graduation. While sitting in the dental chair, I looked around and thought that I could do this. I liked the quiet and the classical music playing in the background.
I attended Boston School of Dental Nursing in Boston graduating in 1963. It was a non -ADA CODA program, but a very good program with very strict instructors. Ten years later, I decided I needed to be certified. I enrolled in an evening program offered by the Northeastern-Tufts Dental Assisting Program, which was ADA CODA accredited.
Currently, the only dental continuing education I do is to keep my DANB certificate current. However, when I started teaching, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Northeastern University in Boston. When I entered college administration as a financial aid administrator, I earned a Master’s of Education in Student Personnel and Counseling also from Northeastern University.
Before settling with Paul F. P. Murphy, DMD, I worked for about three dentists. I was about to give up before I went to work with Dr. Murphy. It was in his office where I blossomed as an assistant.
It was during my tenure with Dr. Murphy, I decided to become certified. Also during that time, a position for a DAU assistant became available at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. It was a difficult decision to leave Dr. Murphy, but if I was to advance in my career and hopefully earn an income where I could move out of my parents’ home, I needed to leave.
One day while assisting Dr. Esther Wilkens, we began talking about my interest in teaching dental assisting. She gave me a name and information about a dental auxiliary education program at University of North Carolina Dental School.
While preparing for that program, a position opened at Quincy Vocational Technical School for which I applied and hired. I took my vocational teacher education-training courses through Framingham State College and began a bachelor’s program in health science at Northeastern University.
I taught at QVTS about 10 years when a ballot proposition changed the Massachusetts tax law that eliminated funding for post secondary education in the public schools and along with it my job. I applied for the position of program coordinator in a new evening dental assistant program at Cape Cod Community College.
After three years when the grant ran out, the program was put on hold and I was offered a position in the financial aid office of the college. I loved the job and remained for the next 12 years and earning a Master’s in Education in Student Personnel and Counseling.
Although it appeared my career as a dental assisting educator had ended, I maintained membership in the American Dental Assistants Association and continued my activities with the Massachusetts DAA. One evening while at a committee meeting, I learned that Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists was searching for a director of its financial aid office. This was a perfect fit for me, combining my two favorite disciplines: student services and dental education.
When the hygiene program at Forsyth was taken over by Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Heal Sciences, I was among the unfortunate ones not to be absorbed by MCPHS. Eventually, I found another financial aid position at a small Episcopal Seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts where I stayed until a reduction in staff (and the fall of the economy) forced me to retire.
My greatest accomplishment has been making a difference for dental assistants. I started with a subcommittee of the Board of Registration in Dentistry around 1977 to re-codify the Rules. Those Rules were in place until recently when I served on another subcommittee of the Board, but this time I was the dental assistant advisor member of the Board.
Secondly, I believe another accomplishment is serving the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the dental assistant advisor member. I have served almost 10 years and it has been a privilege and honor. When the new Rules for dental assistants are promulgated and the Governor appoints the first dental assistant voting member to the Board, I will be one very proud dental assistant to know that I made that happen. That honor will not go to me because I have not worked in dentistry in the last five years, nevertheless, I will be happy when it happens.
Where do I see dental assisting heading? That’s hard to say and very difficult to answer. Over the last 50 years since my graduation from dental assisting school, I’ve seen the profession change.
It’s changed to the point where it is imperative that a dentist has an assistant at his/her side all the time. And still, many dentists do not think it important to hire a person specifically trained to assist. Many still train their own and because these assistants do not have the “why” behind the “how” little details go left undone. Little details which have the potential to get a doctor in trouble with the dental board.
Now is the time for dental assistants to prepare themselves for the future in dentistry and begin earning their associate’s/bachelor’s degrees in the health sciences. Dental assistants need to start thinking of themselves as an important member of the dental team. Perhaps they could start by saying this mantra from the movie Cool Runnings, “I see pride . . . I see power . . ” Dental assistants need to see pride in themselves and then power will follow.
I found out about ADAA when the hygienist in my office dragged me to one of those joint hygienists/assistants meetings. The hygienists were the hosts that year and I joined at that meeting. I believe the year was 1964.
I joined the association because I felt a duty to be a member of the professional organization. My dad was union man, town meeting representative and so I felt obligated to join because he had set the example. But, I was never going to attend any meetings. I thought I had better things to do.
Well, that night as they announced the programs for the next meetings, they sounded pretty good and I met another assistant from my hometown. She invited me to attend the next meeting with her One meeting led to another, which led to another, which then led to being asked to run for office in my local society, and the rest as “they say” is history. As a result, I’m a very strong believer in joint hygiene/assisting meetings.
After holding a variety of committee chairs, including treasurer and secretary, I served as president of my local in 1968/69. Then I began working my way up the ladder in my state association as committee chairs, corresponding secretary, president-elect and president in 1976/77. From 1982 to 1988, I was ADAA district I trustee.
In 1990 I was ADAA local arrangements chair and then again in 1998. I am 1979 recipient of the ADAA Journal Award, 1999 Sullivan-Schein Award of Excellence and the 1999 ADAA Achievement Award.
My advice for potential/future dental assistants is keep your membership and be an active participant in the American Dental Assistants Association. The Association has made me the person I am today and has given me the confidence to do the things that I do. The networking and the friendships have played an important role in advancing both my career and personal life.
Although, many states are turning to registration for dental assistants, never ever give up that certification from the Dental Assisting Nation Board. It’s time for dental assistants to begin to think of their certification as being a Board Certified Dental Assistant, just as doctors in the specialties hold board certification. Dental assistants also need to be recognized in the same manner: a Board Certified Dental Assistant.
In addition, dental assistants need to strive for and obtain their Fellowships and Masterships in the American Dental Assistants Association. It not only shows that the individual went the extra mile, but also shows that desire for continued self-improvement and knowledge. Yes, people who hold certification, fellowship or mastership are held to a slightly higher standard than those who are not, but it’s good for the individual, good for the profession and good for the public.
My best memory of ADAA is my first ADAA Annual Meeting in 1971 and the friendships over the years is the best part of being a member of ADAA. O the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been as a result of my membership in ADAA are priceless.
The Role of the Dental Assistant in Addressing Access to Care
By Judith Tuthill, RDH, MA, Director of Dental Assistant Program at Stony Brook University , School of Dental Medicine, Stony Brook, N.Y.
Access to Care
In 2000, “Oral Health Care in America: A Report of the Surgeon General,” highlighted the problems in oral health care for many Americans – problems that are particularly acute for America’s children.
Thirteen years later many children still do not have the benefit of oral health. Disparities exist between the economically advantaged and the economically disadvantaged. 1
As a result, children are dying due to lack of care.
Deamonte Driver was a seventh grader from Prince George’s County, Maryland, who died of complications from an abscessed tooth on February 25, 2007. Deamonte’s life could have been saved by routine dental visits and an $80 extraction. Deamonte complained of a headache. His mother was unable to find a dentist to see him who would accept Medicaid patients, so she took her son to a hospital emergency room where he was given medicine for a headache, sinusitis and a dental abscess and sent home. He quickly got much sicker and was rushed to surgery, where it was discovered that the bacteria from his abscessed tooth had spread to his brain. Efforts were made to save him including two major operations and eight weeks of additional care costing about $250,000 - all too late. 2
Deamonte’s story is not unique:
- 80 percent of the dental disease in children is found 20-25 percent of children, and these are primarily children from low income and minority families, and there is a growing epidemic of early childhood caries.3
- In 2008 fewer than half of the dentists in 25 states treated any Medicaid patients.4
- In 2009 only 12.9 million (44 percent) of the more than 29 million Medicaid enrolled children received any dental services.4
- Fewer than one in three of Maryland’s 500,000 children who are Medicaid recipients received any dental services last year. 2
- only about 900 of the state’s 5,500 dentists accept Medicaid patients because of the program’s low reimbursement rate and bureaucratic red tape. 2
Just arranging a dental appointment can be a major challenge for families that lack transportation or may be periodically homeless and have erratic telephone and mail service.
Millions of children have dental coverage through either private insurance or a public program such as Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIPS). Unfortunately this does not mean they receive care.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010 includes provisions to improve availability of dental care for at risk children. By 2014 more children will have some form of dental insurance.5 Who will provide treatment for these children? Most dentists work in private practice, away from Dental Health Professions Shortage Areas (DHPSAs).6
A Shortage of Dentists.
Over the next ten years two dentists will retire for every new one that graduates. Fewer dentists graduated in 2009 than in 1980. In that period of time the population in the U.S. increased by 78 million.5
Forty-Seven Million, or 1 in 7, Americans live in an area with a shortage of dentists.6
16,511,502, or 1 in 5, children went without seeing a dentist in 2009.4
29 states permit expanded function dental assistants.7
As a result of the expansion of the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Affordable Care Act, 40 million of America's 78.6 million children—the majority—are becoming eligible for public insurance.8
Fewer than 25 percent of America's dentists will treat a patient with public insurance; and of those who do treat children with public insurance, only 9.5 percent bill more than $10,000/year.9-10
Lack of access to care is multi-faceted and includes:
- lack of insurance coverage,
- lack of dentists who will accept Medicaid patients,
- shortage of dentists,
- unreasonable restrictions placed on auxiliary dental health care providers,
- lack of diversity in the oral health work force,
- lack of awareness of the impact of poor oral health (low dental IQ), along with other cultural, language and socio-economic barriers.
Those hardest hit are the low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, the elderly and disabled and those residing in rural communities. Authorizing new types of providers can help insure that children receive oral care.11
The enrollment in accredited dental hygiene and dental assisting programs has risen. In the period between 2001-2011 dental hygiene enrollment has increased 22.5%, while dental assisting enrollment has increased 61.5 in the same period. These dental auxiliaries are an underused resource in providing dental care in underserved areas. 12
The Importance of Prevention.
There is evidence that prevention practices are effective in controlling dental disease, pain and cost.13
These practices include:
- regular examinations,
- oral hygiene instruction,
- risk assessment for caries and periodontal disease,
- application of fluoride
- appropriate radiographs.
Alternative Training Models:
The American Dental Association’s (ADA) has proposed two workforce models in pilot programs at this time.
The Oral Preventive Assistants (OPAs)
Certified dental assistants with the expanded duties of placing sealants and scaling supragingivally in private offices allowing the dental hygienist time to do more complicated procedures.14
The Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHCs)
Liaisons with the ability to refer patients to dentists and provide minimal palliative treatment, such as fluoride treatments, sealants, supragingival prophylaxis, and temporary fillings after 1,872 hours of training.15
The ADA models are redundant because these models already exist in expanded function dental assistants and dental hygienists.
The American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) has proposed a model which was adopted in Minnesota and is being considered in other states.
The Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioners (ADHPs);
Midlevel provider requires a master’s degree education expanding roles in providing preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, and restorative care in less restrictive settings.16
The Dental Therapist:
The dental therapist model began in the 1920s in New Zealand as a worldwide profession to help address the oral health needs of underserved populations. Dental therapists provide preventive and diagnostic care, treatment of caries, extractions and pulpotomies without direct supervision.
A report by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation published in April 2012 concludes and that dental therapists provide technically competent, safe care, improve access to care, and have the potential to decease the cost of care, especially for children.17
The Expanded Function Dental Assistant
The role of the dental assistant in addressing access to care is as the Expanded Function Dental Assistant. The designation can be confusing. No simple answer. There are at least 41 different job titles for dental assistants in the United States. Every state has different education, exam and experience requirements. Each state defines the duties classified as expanded functions differently. Some states have up to five levels and job titles. The scope of practice, required education and level of supervision needs to be fully defined and uniform nationwide.
- EFDAs are trained to do procedures, such as, coronal polish, sealants, topical fluoride and topical anesthetic. In some states they can place direct dental restorations after the dentist has cut and removed the decay from the tooth, and make temporary crowns after the dentist has prepared the tooth and taken the impression for the permanent crown. This allows the dentist and dental hygienist to have more time to see other patients.
- These providers work under the direct supervision of the licensed dentist.
- No irreversible procedures to hard or soft tissues are performed, such as extractions or cutting teeth, gingiva or mucosa. 7
The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) has compiled the dental assisting requirements for each state. To read about each state’s job titles, requirements and allowable duties, visit the “State-Specific Information” section of DANB’s website at www.danb.org.
A multi-tier system of dental care is preferable to no care. It is not necessary to develop new workforce models as proposed by the ADA.
Increasing the number of practitioners, and allied oral health professionals currently providing service, along with upgrading facilities and expanding services would be cost effective and prudent in increasing access to care.
In order to improve access to care, increased efforts to support increasing the training and utilization of the newer workforce models, such as expanding the duties of dental assistants, is imperative.
- U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: a report of the surgeon general. Rockville, Md.: U.S. Public Health Service, Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2000.
- Otto, Mary. “For Want of a Dentist.” The Washington Post. 28 February, 2007. Accessed Nov 2012.
- Kaste LM, Selwitz RH, Oldakowski RJ, Brunelle JA, Winn DM, Brown LJ. Coronal caries in the primary and permanent dentition of children and adolescents 1-17 years of age: United States, 1988-1991. JDentRes 1996:75 Spec No:631-41.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "Medicaid Early & Periodic Screening & Diagnostic Treatment Benefit – State Agency Responsibilities" (CMS-416). Accessed Nov 2012.
- U.S. Government Accountability Office. Efforts under way to improve children’s access to dental services, but sustained attention needed to address ongoing concerns. Nov 2010. Available at: www.gao.gov/products/GAO-11-96. Accessed Nov 2012.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Designated HPSA Statistics Report, Table 4, "Health Professional Shortage Areas by State, Detail for Dental Care Regardless of Metropolitan/Non-Metropolitan Status as of September 1, 2011," U.S. Census Bureau. "Table 1. Monthly Population Estimates for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2011" (December 2011). Accessed Nov 2012.
- Available at: www.danb.org. Accessed Nov 2012.
- Kasier Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Oral health coverage and care for low-income children: The role of Medicaid and CHIP. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2009.
- Office of the Inspector General. Children's dental services under Medicaid: Access and utilization. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PHS: Office of the Inspector General, 1996.
- Gehshan S. Hauck P. Scales J. Increasing dentists' participation in Medicaid and SCHIP. Denver and Washington: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2001.
- D.A. Nash and R.I. Nagel, “Confronting Oral Health Disparities among American Indian/Alaska Native Children: The Pediatric Oral Health Care Therapist .” American Journal of Public Health. 95 (no. 8, 2005): 1327.
- ADA 2010-20122 Survey of Allied Dental Education. www.ada.org/esctions/professionalResources/pdfs/survey_allied.pdf. P.15. Accessed March 2013.
- Pew Commission on the States. The cost of delay: state dental policies fail one in five children. Washington DC and Philadelphia. 2010.
- Oral Preventive Assistant. Available at: www.ada.org/3207.aspx#personal. Accessed Nov 2012.
- Community Dental Health Coordinators. Available at: www.ada.org/cdhc.aspc. Accessed Nov 2012.
- McKinnon M, et al. Emerging allied dental workforce models: considerations for academic dental institutions. J Dent Educ. 2007; 71(11): 1476-91.
- A review of the global literature on dental therapist. W.K. Kellogg Foundation, April 2012.
Supreme Court of Iowa Comes to a Ruling
by Dr. Carolyn Breen, ADAA President
(Chicago: March, 2013) The Supreme Court of Iowa recently decided that a dentist did not engage in gender discrimination when he fired a dental assistant at the request of his wife. According to ABC TV news, the dentist found his assistant “irresistible.” The dentist’s attorney said that her “dress and behavior were inappropriate.”
The American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) speaks for approximately 300,000 dental assistants in the United States. After researching available documentation regarding the case, “we were disappointed in the findings of the Court,” said Carolyn Breen, Ed.D.,CDA, RDA, RDH, President of the Association. “We feel that the Court failed to recognize the human dynamics that exist in any employment setting as, there appear to have been multiple issues and additional underlying factors affecting the case.“
As part of appropriate business practice and standard human resource protocols, it is the responsibility of the employer to conduct formal, ongoing performance appraisals, identify perceived “weaknesses”, and implement remedial measures for performance enhancement. A ‘surprise’ firing leaves no room for appropriate due process and remediation which can lead to misunderstanding and, in this case, legal action which might have been prevented.
While an employer acting in this manner may not have been found guilty of breaching any laws in the eyes of the Court, the employer is certainly responsible for questionable action resulting in a far-reaching negative impact on the employee. ADAA President Breen and the Board of Trustees feel that the dental assistant should have been made aware of specific performance issues in a timely fashion. An identified course of action to enhance performance within a designated time line should have been outlined and implemented. Despite the fact that the Court found no fault with the dentist’s actions, there might have been a more appropriate course of action taken by the employer to resolve the situation resulting in a more positive outcome for all involved.
The ADAA is America's oldest and largest dental assisting association serving an estimated 300,000 dental assistants in the United States. It is dedicated to the development and recognition of professionalism through education, membership services and public awareness programs. The ADAA is a strong advocate for legislation mandating credentialing for clinical dental assistants and greater recognition of the assistant's role as valuable members of the dental team.
Texas 1st Student Chapter of the ADAA Has Been Approved
Texas 1st Student Chapter of the ADAA has been approved....and Congratulations are in order!
Concorde Career Institute in Arlington, Texas has successfully completed all paperwork and elected their officers of their SADAA Chapter.
Their proud sponsor is Ms. Nadia Dorise.
This student chapter will provide a direct communication channel between ADAA and their students so that their opinions are heard on the national level. The purpose of this Chapter is to provide students with leadership development, mentoring and support during their time in school, and a direct link to their local organization; Ft. Worth District Dental Assistants Society.
The first service project they have chosen to participate in is called Soldiers Angels. Each student will contribute items needed for these deployed soldiers who appreciate the comforts of home while serving. There are many other service projects this chapter will be considering in the near future including educational meetings (lunch 'n learn), career development or meeting with their local dental assisting chapter. Keep your eye on this SADAA chapter, as their spirits will soar while learning, participating in their professional organization, and strengthening their role as they enter into the dental industry as committed dental assistants.
Celebrate DARW With Our 13-13-13 Promotion
In celebration of Dental Assistants Recognition Week, the ADAA is offering a special promotion for the Fellowship and Mastership Programs. As part of the $13 for 13 days in 2013 promotion, starting today for 13 days, we will be offering the application fee for the enrollment into the Fellowship or Mastership program for only $13! That’s $27 in savings! Commemorate DARW this year by taking advantage of this great deal and sign up today! As the profession of dental assisting moves forward, you should move forward too. Become a Fellow or Master of the American Dental Assistants Association, put your experience and education to the challenge today.
Take the program’s challenging path to:
• Increased value to your patients and practice
• Enhanced confidence in your dental assisting capabilities
• Public recognition of professional achievement
• Increased professional status
• Satisfaction of increased education
• Enhancement of self-esteem
Experience the satisfaction of achievement.
Click on the link to download the application and sign up!
by Dr. Carolyn Breen, ADAA President
From the first “ Lady in Waiting” or female attendant in the dental office to the dental assistant of the present, the scope of practice and responsibilities delegated to dental assistants has changed drastically over the years. Depending upon the state in which one is employed, there are a variety of significant intraoral procedures performed by chairside dental assistants on patients on a daily basis under the supervision of the dentist. The functions performed by dental assistants require background knowledge, manual dexterity, coordination and proficiency of multiple significant skills. As educators, you have a primary role in sharing this knowledge with future dental assistants as they prepare to take their place in the profession with their peers.
Although delegable functions outlined in state dental practice acts vary, the following is a partial listing of procedures dental assistants routinely perform on patients: preliminary impressions; placement and removal of rubber dams; placement and removal of matrices; placement and removal of archwires and ligatures; placement of amalgam; removal of excess cement; cementation of temporary crowns; removal of sutures; placement of sealants; administration of topical fluoride; placement of topical anesthetics; patient education; and placement and removal of periodontal and surgical dressings.
Some states also allow dental assistants to perform coronal polish, radiographic exposures and placement of permanent restorations. Many states also require specific education and credentialing to legally perform the expanded functions referenced. These and other notable services provided by the dental assistant contribute directly to the oral health of the public.
All too often, when asked our “title,” we automatically respond by saying “ I am only a dental assistant.” As critical members of the dental workforce, we need to carefully examine the breadth of our role in patient care, value that we add to the dental team and, most importantly, the contributions we make to the health and welfare of the patients who come under our care. As educators, we need to instill in our students a sense of pride and accomplishment regarding our role on the dental team.
Dental Assisting: Rx for Being Recognized as a Professional
By Dr. Carolyn Breen, ADAA President
Based upon feedback from American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) members and non members nationally, dental assistants often feel that they are not appreciated or recognized for contributions to the oral health of the public and are not appropriately compensated for services provided. However, to advance our discipline and gain the recognition and the status that we truly deserve, we need to pose the difficult question: Are we willing to work to develop, initiate and implement the action steps required to be truly recognized as a profession?
According to Webster, a profession is : “A calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation” . Dentistry meets all the requirements of a profession. Dental assisting and dental hygiene, as allied dental disciplines, have been referenced and usually considered as professions within dentistry. However, neither fulfill all of the guidelines of professions as they are not self regulating and must practice under the supervision of the dentist. Therefore, technically, dental assisting and dental hygiene are not independent professions. Additionally, as dental assisting does not have generally accepted standards and requirements for education and credentialing, it lacks an additional criteria.
As noted, the term “profession” is often used to describe most allied health disciplines, including dental assisting. However, in working toward our future as dental assistants, we need to reflect on the characteristics of a profession as referenced in the literature to assist us in developing strategies to attain true professional status.
Professionalism is defined as “The conduct, aims, or qualities that mark a profession or a professional person.” The essence of a profession or professionalism is a commitment to patient welfare, ethics, high ideals and desirable characteristics. An important aspect of being a professional is portraying behavior that is considered to be appropriate and “ethical” by colleagues and the public. Four (4) basic ethical guidelines prevail:
- Beneficence-do no harm
- Autonomy-respect for all persons’ viewpoints
- Veracity-honesty in dealing with others including identification of potentials hazards and benefits of treatment
- Justice-providing a person with what is due
In fulfilling our daily responsibilities, dental assistants need to be mindful of the following which assist us in guiding appropriate ethical behavior. We should also ask ourselves, would the most ethical person I know take this action? Prior to taking action, an assessment may be conducted to determine if pending actions will: comply with rules, regulations and guidelines; be compatible with organizational values; allow me to feel comfortable/guilt free ? Additional considerations should include: would I take the same action with family/friends and would I like this action if it were done to me?
As documented, a profession is distinguished by the following:
In carefully examining the characteristics of a profession, we can safely indicate that dental assisting meets several of those outlined. However, we need to recognize that there are multiple aspects of truly being recognized as a profession that we must continue to address and toward which we must work.
Dental assistants need to be proactive in developing a body of knowledge that is constantly expanded, updated, and documented in the literature. Authors need to be identified to demonstrate scholarly work and to contribute to the dental literature.
ADAA is working hard to develop collaborations with other notable national organizations to explore and outline initiatives to address the need for specific academic preparation in specialized institutions and establish guidelines for credentialing of dental assistants for public protection and to assure quality care. Therefore, the question is posed: are we willing to work to develop, initiate and implement the action steps required to be truly recognized as a profession? The answer to the question and our future status as a profession are up to you!
Adams, Cynthia H., Jones, Peter, D., Interpersonal Communication Skills For Health Professionals, 2nd ed. Mcgraw-Hill, 2000
Burt and Eklund, Dentistry, Dental Practice and the Community, WB Saunders, 1999
Miles , Dynamic Dentistry Practice Management Tools and Strategy for Breakthrough Success, Link Publishing, 2003
Olrech, Nancy, Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, Student Success for Health Professionals, Chapter 8, pgs 229-248, 2008
Sherfield, Montgomery and Moodey, Cornerstone: Building on your Best, Prentice Hall Upper Saddle River, NJ, 2002
Dental Assistants Making a Difference by Celebrating February as National Children's Dental Health Month
by Carolyn K. Breen, Ed.D, CDA, RDA, RDH
Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness regarding the oral health of our nation’s children. The initiative is widespread with many activities conducted each February to provide needed services, patient education, information and materials to children in need of dental care. Dental assistants, along with members of the allied dental team, assist in all phases of treatment, provide education, and distribute materials and auxiliary heath aids to thousands in many communities across the country.
The universal message highlights the importance of developing good oral hygiene and dietary habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits to promote and maintain dental and general health. Early integration of healthy lifestyles will assist with providing the youth of America with the tools necessary to promote the health of the teeth and surrounding tissues.
The ADA provides free online resources to assist with the planning and implementation of local programs. There are a variety of sample presentations, suggested activities, and handouts free of charge which may be downloaded and utilized to enhance local events. Items such as booklets and videos are also available for purchase through the ADA via their catalogue.
In addition to the overarching national month long initiative each February, the American Dental Association began the Give Kids A Smile (GKAS) program in 2003. Since that time, not only dentists but thousands of dental assistants have donated their time and service to provide members of their local communities with care and patient education to underserved children to improve and promote their oral health.
Dental assistants work with the dental team to volunteer their time during dental screenings, patient care, and educational programs for children throughout the United States. Support for the national event is also provided by generous donations from many corporate sponsors. According to information posted ion the ADA website, www.ada.org, "each year, approximately 450,000 children benefit from more than 1,500 events, all because of the efforts of 40,000 or more annual volunteers ".
As the focus of GKAS is to provide a day of care for children in need who might otherwise not benefit from dental care, initiatives have heightened the public’s awareness of the ongoing challenges disadvantaged families face in obtaining needed dental care. The GKAS program links schools, dental offices and institutions with dental clinical facilities where children receive much needed oral health education, screenings, and basic treatment. Those requiring additional care may also be referred for treatment to local dentists and clinical facilities providing care for the indigent. Oral health aids such as a toothbrush and toothpaste are also distributed along with materials to promote healthy oral habits with additional information being shared with parents and guardians.
Over many years, dental assistants have played a key role in supporting these national programs to promote the dental care of children by not only assisting with treatment but also providing the necessary skills for children to grow into health adults who participate in their oral health.
We thank all dental assistants who have participated in these events over the years and encourage those of you who may not yet have become involved to offer your skills and talent to support the programs by providing care and services to needy children. To become involved in these worthwhile initiatives, please access the ADA website at www.ada.org for information and materials. Please also contact you state and/or local dental assistants associations as posted on the ADAA website, www.dentalassistant.org, for information regarding participating locations.
Setting Goals for a Happy New Year from the Perspective of a Dental Assistant
By Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA
Can you believe another year has come and gone? Where did 2012 go? Each year I set goals to grow personally and professionally. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always reach those goals, but if I don’t make the goals, I don’t have anything to reach for.
Thirty-three years ago right after high school I attended a local community college for dental laboratory technology, and then my life took a different turn. I got married, had a baby, and was divorced, all in a matter of 18 months. I knew I needed to go to school, but I was a single mom with no clue what to do. When I tried reenrolling in the dental lab course, I learned the college had terminated the program. I had no idea where to turn.
Our community offered a program for low-income people like me that would educate me and get me started on a new career. They offered several programs, but the one I thought I might like was the dental assistant program. I believe I made a wise choice!
That seems like a lifetime ago. So much has happened since then. I’ve never been without a job, I get to work with amazing people, and I’ve challenged myself and grown in my career by taking expanded functions, becoming a CDA, and teaching and developing a dental assisting program that I now direct, all while working chairside. I contribute articles to Dental Assisting Digest, where I sit on the editorial board, and I contribute to the ADAA 24/7 and Dental Economics. I sit on the board for the Illinois Dental Assistants Association, work with the ADAA on a national level, and I founded a study club in my area for assistants. And I actually do find time to sleep once in a while!
There are still so many things I want to do professionally. I love to learn. I don’t think one can ever stop learning because our world is constantly changing. If we’re not moving forward, we’re going backward. As our profession changes, our job description grows! The technology coming out every day is amazing; our doctors depend on us more and more. Gone are the days when a dentist hangs out his or her shingle and patients flock in. Creating a successful practice is a team effort, and YOU are a valuable member of that team!
Have you thought about what you want to accomplish in 2013? What goals do you want to set for yourself? Here are some tips for those goals and making them happen.
Step 1 — Create realistic goals. Don’t start trying to take over the world. Break your goals down into smaller ones. You can more easily reach your goals if you share them with people who are important to you, and this makes you accountable. I make it a point to write down my goals, and I visit my list often to keep me focused. Sometimes my goals change as events arise, so my list changes but it only gets better.
Step 2 — Each goal has to have a plan. Make a roadmap of how you’re going to achieve your goals. Believe in yourself and don’t talk yourself out of reaching for your dreams. You won’t always get what you go after, and that’s OK. The lessons you learn will be valuable, and you’ll get there next time.
Step 3 — When you achieve a goal, reward yourself! It’s hard work to stick to a plan and make things happen, so celebrate your success. You are the most important asset you have, so treat yourself to something fun.
Maybe your goal will include taking one of the national certification exams offered by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA), or Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA). Or perhaps your goal is to get involved with other dental assistants through the American Dental Assistants Association. Perhaps you want to get involved or start a community service project to help underserved communities, or maybe you want to take an expanded functions course according to your state guidelines that will allow you to perform more tasks.
Whatever your goals may be, I think 2013 is the time to get serious about where you want your career to go. What do you want out of our profession?
This is one amazing time to be a dental assistant! I want you to jump on the bandwagon, go after your goals, and make things happen!
2013 is moving in fast. Where do you want it to take you?
Have a Happy New Year, everyone!
Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, is a 1981 graduate of the Missouri College, and has more than 30 years of chairside experience. She is currently the office manager/chairside assistant to Dr. Eric Hurtte of O’Fallon Mo. She is a member of the ADAA, sits on the board of the Illinois Dental Assistant Association, founder of the Dental Assistants Study Club of St. Louis, director of the Dental Careers Institute, and an independent consultant specializing in assistant training, team building, office organization, and CEREC assistant training. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Facebook.
What Separates A Professional In Any Occupation From A Person Who Has A Career?
By Jan DeBell, CDA, BS, MS
What separates a professional in any occupation from a person who has a career? I often ask my students this question as they begin their educational journey in dental assisting. How would you respond to either my students or me if I asked you this question?
The first thing that comes to mind is the desire to continue learning in whatever career/profession one has chosen. It doesn’t matter if you are an accountant; in fact H & R Block advertises that one tax consultant has read ALL 900+ pages of the new tax codes this year, or a hair designer that works at a Paul Mitchell Salon or a dental assistant. Ongoing learning is a must to grow in your career/profession.
Where do all of these other professionals find additional continuing educational courses? For many, it is conferences, workshops and reading professional journals. Dental assistants have our own journal, “The Dental Assistant” that has articles that apply to our professional lives. Topics such as; infection control, new products and new techniques just to name a few on the clinical side, while on the business side there are articles on how to manage difficult collections, and how to create a positive work environment for the dental team. The journal also provides us the opportunity to see how things are different but similar in the armed forces for their dental techs.
In the journal there are opportunities to be gained from the use of our educational department that makes all of us aware of new courses that are being offered through the ADAA. These courses are constantly being reviewed, updated and in some instances discontinued so that all members of the ADAA are kept current and knowledgeable in the ever changing areas of dental assisting. These courses also offer to those dental assistants who are working on their fellowship or mastership honors the opportunity to meet the strict guideline to call themselves a Fellow or Master.
These courses also have one HUGE benefit for all members, as a paying member of the ADAA they are FREE. How many educational opportunities today are free? I strongly recommend taking advantage of ALL that you membership has to offer and this is one of them.
“There is one thing that connects all the different people who influenced my life. The common thread is that they encouraged me to search and to go beyond what I already knew.” Ed Fitzgerald wrote these words in the book, Mentors, Masters and Mrs. MacGregor and they are true of a professional dental assistant, we encourage one another to search and to go beyond what we already know by continuing to learn. So see what our courses have to offer you today.
ADAA Past Presidents Announce a New ADAA Member Benefit
(Pictured l to r: ADAA Past Presidents - Kristy Borquez, Kathy Zwieg, Stephen Spadaro, Cathy Roberts, Claudia Pohl, Kimberly Bland, Angie Swatts, Natalie Kaweckyj and Jennifer Blake)
The ADAA Past Presidents are committed to finding new ways to benefit our credentialing dental assistants and how a state or national credential will advance the careers of dental assistants.
So the ADAA Past Presidents are announcing a new benefit for ADAA members: A Scholarship for Credentialing! ADAA members who need to take a credentialing exam, apply for a credential certificate or license or any other expense to become credentialed in the state or take the national certification exam, can apply with the attached application to receive a $500.00 scholarship to be used toward the credentialing process. Qualifications for the scholarship are also attached.
One scholarship will be given in 2013 with the deadline for application being June 30, 2013.
1. Be an active member of ADAA (student scholarships are separate) and work as a dental assistant for 1 year.
2. Submit the Credentialing application by the stated deadline date.
3. Write a paragraph on why the assistant wants to be credentialed and how this will improve their career.
4. Submit a letter of reference from an ADAA member regarding the assistant's character and participation with ADAA.
5. Applicant must meet all pre-qualifications for the credential desired and submit completed application(s) for exam in a timely manner to the appropriate entity .
6. The ADAA Past Presidents Council will appoint a committee to select the recipient and will notify the recipient of the award.
7. Credentialing Exam must be taken within one year of receiving the scholarship and a copy of certificate award shall be sent to ADAA Past Presidents Council Scholarship Committee.
Download the Scholarship Form (word / pdf)
Job Search and Interview Strategies for the Dental Assistant
Vaishali Singhal, DMD, BS
Congratulations on your completion of a dental assisting program and passing all required licensure exams; you are now on the path of a wonderful career as a dental assistant. The next big step in front of you is the daunting task of searching for a job as a dental assistant. There are many ways to search for your first job; the Internet may be one of the first places that you check for listing. Sites such as Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com are just two of the many that have listings based on geographic locations. Additionally, many of these websites allow the candidate to post his/her resume so employers may view it. Furthermore, the school that you graduated from may offer assistance in searching for a dental assisting position. Some programs receive notifications from local offices of available positions. These notifications are made available to students in search of a job; a resume would need to be submitted to the office to demonstrate qualifications and interest. An additional source would be local newspapers; many list available dental assistant positions. Furthermore, each state level Dental Assistants’ Associations also lists open positions that the candidate may search. Thus, there are many job search options available to the new dental assistant searching for the perfect position.
There are many factors one must consider when searching for the perfect position. First and foremost is whether or not you are considering a full time job in one office or a part time job in one or more locations. A full time position may be preferred by some who prefer to be in one location every day. One or more part-time positions may be preferred by some as the dental assistant can get an idea of what qualities they are looking for in an employer before committing to a full time job. If considering a full time job, it is important to find out if the office provides benefits to the employees (part-time positions most likely will not provide benefits).
Regardless of whether or not one opts for a full time or part time position, the goal is to find an office in you will be happy and can flourish in your chosen profession. To find the right place of employment, the candidate must keep certain things in mind. The dental profession is conservative and it is important to dress in such a manner for the interview. Appearances do matter and create a lasting first impression. As a result, wearing appropriate business attire is important; this includes either business pants or an appropriate length business skirt at knee or below the knee). Darker colors such as black, navy or gray will provide the most professional appearance. A professional blouse that is simple and light in color will pair well with the dark pants or business skirt. The blouse should have an appropriate neckline and should preferably have sleeves. A dark jacket that matches with the trousers or skirt will provide a finished professional appearance. Additionally, shoes should be dark to match the slacks or skirt and should not have very high heels. A low or mid heel is comfortable, professional and will allow you to walk without worrying about losing your balance. Jewelry should be simple and minimal if worn at all. The condition of one’s hands are very revealing, thus it is important that hands and nails should be clean. Nails should be trimmed to an appropriate level of no more than just slightly above the fingertips. Nail polish should be clear or light in color. An overall professional appearance demonstrates to the potential employer that you are serious in your career and are interested in the position being offered. Additionally, your appearance will give you the confidence needed during the interview.
Once you arrive at the office for the interview, you may be greeted by the office staff initially. It is normal to be nervous for an interview, however, remember to greet the staff and the dentist with a smile. This will create a relaxing environment for everyone and also set the tone for a pleasant interview session. During the interview, remember to maintain eye contact with the potential employer. This will demonstrate that you are paying attention and taking interest in what is being said.
Fidgeting is a sign of nervousness or restlessness. It may also be a sign that you are not interested in what is being discussed. Sitting with crossed legs or arms may send a signal that you are closed minded and not open to the ideas of others. During the interview, you want to send a positive signal to the employer that you are flexible, open and focused. Thus, sitting still with legs and arms uncrossed and paying full attention to the interviewer will allow for an interview that will end in a positive manner.
Be prepared for questions from the interviewer. One common question is “What can you offer to this office?” A second question which is frequently asked is “Tell me your strong points and your weak points?” You may also be asked why you decided to become a dental assistant or why you chose this particular office to apply to for a position. Being a team player is critical in a dental office to ensure that daily functions run smoothly and efficiently. It is important, as a potential candidate, to provide examples of how you would be a valuable office staff team member.
It is important for you as a candidate to ask questions of your potential future employer. One such question is related to salary; what is the starting pay and how often are raises given. As a licensed dental assistant, you will need to take continuing education courses to maintain licensure; find out if the employer will provide a paid day off for courses and whether or not the employer will pay for the courses. Also ask about vacation time: how many days are offered and do they have to be taken when the dentist goes on vacation and the office is closed. Find out from the employer what qualities he/she is looking for in the new staff member and whether or not they feel that you fulfill those qualifications. You want to work in an office that demonstrates respect to employees, one way to find this out is to ask the potential employer how he/she would communicate to you about tasks that need to be accomplished.
Although a verbal formal interview is important, it is just as important to request a working interview. As a candidate, you may request whether or not the office would allow you to come in one day to observe and/or assist during patient appointments. Choose a normally busy day for the office as that will allow you to observe the work flow process and the management of stress by all staff members. A working interview will be beneficial to you as the candidate and to the potential employer as it will allow both of you to decide whether or not the working relationship will be mutually beneficial. Although the interview process can be overwhelming, being prepared is key as this will allow the sessions to progress smoothly and in a positive manner.
Juliette A. Southard Scholarship, Student Achievement Award & ADAA/Hu-Friedy Merit Scholar applications are now being accepted!
Nanette Hill & Maureen Mosse, Council on Awards & Scholarships
ADAA is proud to announce that the JAS Scholarship and Student Achievement Award applications for 2013 are now available!
SCHOLARSHIP: Juliette A. Southard/Oral-B Education Scholarship Program, named for the founder of the American Dental Assistants Association, is underwritten by Oral-B, ADAA and volunteer donations. Established in 1929, the program awards scholarships to dental assisting students and dental assistants interested in furthering their education in the field of dental assisting. $750 AWARDED TO 10 INDIVIDUALS!
Last year we awarded 10 recipients over $10,000 in scholarship/award funds.
This scholarship is available to ADAA student members who are studying to be dental assistants. Deadline for this scholarship is March 15, 2013, 12pm CST. Download application.
STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: The student achievement award will be presented to the ADAA Student member who has shown the most outstanding achievement as a dental assisting student.
$500 AWARDED TO ONE INDIVIDUAL.
As the Chairs of the ADAA Awards and Scholarship Council, we urge you to take this opportunity to help the ADAA recognize these colleagues of our future profession. Further information and applications may be obtained from the ADAA website.
ADAA/HU-FRIEDY MERIT SCHOLAR AWARD – EDUCATORS: ADAA is proud to partner with Hu-Friedy to honor those dental assisting students who exhibit proficiency in four-handed dentistry and exemplify the critical contribution an educated dental assistant makes to the success of clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and improved office efficiency. Awarded to one ADAA student member enrolled in a CODA approved program. (Nominated by Educator)
Guidelines / Download Application; one award recipient per ADA Council on Dental Accreditation accredited Dental Assisting program shall be awarded an ADAA/ Hu-Friedy Merit Scholar award, a one year full paid ADAA membership, and names posted on the Hu-Friedy website, in the ADAA Journal and additional publications
APPLICATIONS AND GUIDELINES ARE AVAILABLE ON THE ADAA WEBSITE.
Oceans Apart, ADAA Mission Statement Unites ADAA & Chinese Delegation
Linda Lu Cai-Chinese Delegation
Editor's note: Ms. Linda Cai began attending the ADAA Annual Session in 2007, held in San Francisco, California that year. Since then, she has attended the ADAA Annual Session every year, bringing with her Chinese dentists to show them how dental assistants help dentists in America. The following article is written by her about her visitations and this year's ADAA Annual Session.
October 19, 2012: It was a sunny day in San Francisco, California as the American Dental Assistant Association held their 88th annual meeting. The dentist delegation from China was present for their fourth visit, which was organized by Ms. Linda Lu Cai. ADAA President Claudia Pohl welcomed the international guests with enthusiasm.
Ms. Cai was an RDA in China, Beijing at Peking University School of Stomatology. She has been working as a dental assistant for 30 years, 17 years of those years in California. She strives to help Chinese dentists and dental assistants learn how American dentists and assistants work together with four-hand operations using dental treatment technology.
While dentistry in Unites States has been developing for longer than the 88 years the ADAA has been in existence, the Chinese private clinic dentist and assistants were only established 20 years ago. Being such, Chinese dentists and assistants are looking to the United States for education. The incidence of caries and periodontal disease is very high in China, and because China's population is very high their oral treatment needs are very high too. People there need more help understanding the importance of oral health, so the work of the dental assistant is very important. Dental assistant schools are only in the development stage in China currently.
Ms. Cai and her team return to China twice a year and give lectures in many cities about how the assistant can help the dentist, and how to care for and communicate with the patient. It is her passion to educate the assistants. In 2009, she came with the Chinese dental doctors and assistants to visit the United States, especially to attend the ADAA Annual Session. There, ADAA members and staff always warmly welcome the Chinese dentists and assistants.
Dental experts from both countries conducted friendly exchanges. In 2012, Linda went to China twice. In addition to providing the dental assisting courses in public, she also spoke at the assistant school in Hefei City in Anhui Province, and Nanning City in Guangxi Province where the speech was attended by 300 students. The students were very pleased to have the opportunity to learn about the techniques used by United States dental assistants. They also said they understand the content and responsibility of dental assistants work through this speech. The students felt proud and received a sense of the dental assistant worth.
Linda works hard both in China and the United States. She is grateful for the ADAA's support and encouragement. At the ADAA 87th Annual Conference, in Las Vegas, Nevada, residing ADAA President Natalie Kaweckyj gave a special award to Ms. Cai, “A World of Thanks” trophy. Ms. Cai was recognized for her contribution to the international dental assistants and her work between the United States and China for the past 5 years. Linda encouraged continuing efforts to help the development of the work of dental assistants in China. Over the years she has introduced to China the ADAA MISSION: “To advance the careers of dental assistants and to promote the dental assisting profession in matters of education, legislation, credentialing and professional activities which enhance the delivery of quality dental health care to the public.”
We share the view that the world needs good dental assistants, and a dental assistant must love their job. Linda loves dental assisting, and with the rest of her life she will make every effort to help dental assistants, whether in China or the United States. She will continue to help Chinese dental assistants come to the United States to visit and learn. Ms. Cai has invited the ADAA experts to come to China in the year of 2013.
Citrus College Students Volunteer for Charity Dental Event in LA
Alyssa Snyder & Kimbriana Murphy, Citrus College
Students from Citrus College RDA Program spent a day volunteering during the recent LA Care Harbor Charity Dental Event. The event used to be called Care Now, but organizers said it didn't reflect all that was happening at the arena. Now, the event is called Care Harbor L.A. because they have expanded follow-up care. There are 85 different clinics at the arena to sign up patients and make appointments for any post-care needs. Also expanded this year was the dental care area. Most people come to the event for root canals, extractions and fillings. Last year, there were 80 chairs, but this year, there was 100.
They have worked together as a team since 2009. After serving as the local organizers of what were then the two largest urban free clinics in the country, they formed a 501(c)(3) charity to continue the work of producing large scale free clinics, and to innovate advances and expanded capabilities in the delivery of care at these events. The first event as a new charity was produced in collaboration with Maria Shriver, then First Lady of California.
The clinics have introduced patient handling systems that provide a compassionate and welcoming environment , assuring that all patients are treated with dignity and respect. Overnight waits in the hope of entry and day long internal lines have been eliminated. They developed an electronic medical record system that assures accurate, HIPAA compliant records and makes detailed reporting and analysis of clinic results possible. They added a comprehensive prevention and health education component, innovating advances like preventive dentistry, to help patients lead healthier lives. And they introduced a system to place patients needing follow-up care into medical homes, with representatives on site to schedule appointments before patients leave the event. They have transformed our clinics from episodic to sustainable care, making a lasting change in the health of our patients and the communities they serve.
Several students volunteered their time, despite the fact that they were brand new to the program – most of them only five weeks into their program. Here is a brief synopsis of their experience of the day.
“My initial feelings walking into the coliseum were excitement and intimidation, but I was also impressed with the fact that despite the recession (someone/many people) found enough man power, supplies and volunteers to put on such an event. They also understood that dental treatment usually comes last on many people’s list and not because they don't need the treatment.
I was impressed with how well the Dental floor was organized (triage, x-rays, surgery, hygiene, sterilization), with how many volunteers there were, with how the 4yr dental student I assisted gingerly guided me with no signs of frustration, with how he worked with minimal supplies, with the fact he finished 6 extractions in just the couple of hours I assisted him – and every single person I encountered assisted me in one way or another.
After each extraction I walked every patient to the front and they all expressed their gratitude for our services and the event. So while I gained priceless knowledge and confidence and I am sure Dental Assisting is what I want to do, the event was food for my soul which I did not anticipate but I am grateful for nonetheless. I cannot wait for the next opportunity – sign me up!”
ADAA Congratulates New ADAA Fellows and Masters
October 18-20, 2012 the ADAA 88th Annual Session was held in San Francisco, California where the Fellowship/Mastership Convocation Ceremony welcomed 8 new Fellows and 3 new Masters. We are pleased to congratulate the ADAA members who have worked hard to complete the 300 hours for the Fellowship program and the 400 hours for the Mastership program.
Members who are interested in the Fellowship/Mastership program can refer to the Continuing Education section for detailed information.
Congratulations again to: Fellows-Betty Fox, Seymour, TN; Marijane Juricic, Jefferson City, MO; Terri Anderson, Guthrie, MN; Denise Hall, Packwood, IA; Wendy Wakefield, Imperial, MO; Susan Lipsitt, Hyde Park, MA; Marilyn Copeland, Charlevoix, MI and Dolores Muniz, Albuquerque, NM, Masters-Wendy Frye-Agers, Fenton, MO; Mary Lawrence, Clements, MD; Kelly Lennier, Petaluma, CA.
ADAA proudly honors all 112 Fellows and 20 Masters who obtained the Fellowship/Mastership status.
San Fernando Valley Dental Assistants Society collecting for Toys for Tots
Since the Fire Station we hold our meetings at will be collecting toys for Toys for Tots, and we will be sponsoring a family at Christmas, we are going to offer an incentive for attendees to donate to both causes. Anyone who brings an unwrapped toy to the November meetings will receive a raffle ticket (per toy).
At the November meeting we will raffle a $25 gift card. The more toys you bring the more chances you will have to win the gift card. We will select the appropriate toys to donate to our sponsored family and the remainder will be donated to the Fire Station for Toys for Tots. It is truly a win-win-win situation and a great way to get into the holiday mood. If you do not bring a toy but wish to participate in the raffle, tickets will be sold for $5 each.
At this meeting will also have election of officers for 2013.
To view the SFVDAS Sept - Dec 2012 - Vol. 32 No. 3 Bridging the Gap Newsletter, click here.
New and Revised Accreditation Standards
ATTN: Patrice Renfrow, interim manager
Dental Assisting Education
211 East Chicago Avenue, 19th Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
How Valuable Are You?
By Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA
Your alarm goes off. Is it really time to get up? You hit the snooze button not once, but four times. You tell yourself you need just a few more minutes, thinking how much the extra sleep would help. You finally drag yourself out of bed, but because you hit snooze so many times, you barely have enough time to get ready for work. You race around like a madwoman hoping you didn’t forget your lunch as you head out the door. You hit every red light on the way, and when you finally get in the door you realize you left the instruments last night to be autoclaved this morning. You had thought, “I'll be in early tomorrow to do them.” What a way to start the day!
I’ve been a dental assistant for 29 years and have had many mornings like this. Although I have always loved my dental assisting job, there was simply nothing for me to jump out of bed for. As a single mom, I spent many years working a second job at night or on the weekends. One job just wasn't enough to get us through.
I remember attending a seminar back in the ’80s, a team building speech, blah, blah, that was not very motivating. But I learned a long time ago that one can find valuable information from any seminar. In this particular one, the speaker talked about how just a few years ago he wasn't making a lot of money in dentistry. He took the initiative to invest in diamonds, oil, and any latest and greatest venture he learned about by hanging out on the back 9 with his buddies. This caught my attention because the dentist I was working for at the time owned a lot of apartment complexes and was always looking to buy more. He'd say, "That's where the money is!"
He also said he tried everything to make extra money, basically to fund his dental practice. But he finally learned the solution wasn't investing in any of those ventures. The solution was investing in his practice, staff, and patients, and by doing that, his practice began to pay for itself. Wow! That was huge! How many dentists know this? From my perspective, not very many. Through the years, I’ve seen it many times over — dentists going out of their way to make extra money by investing in some get-rich-quick scheme!
I never considered myself a slow learner, but the truth is I guess I am. I remember looking at my boss and thinking, “That's what YOU need to do.” But in all honesty, that lecturer was talking to me too. I learned over the years that what I needed to do for ME was to invest in myself! I am the greatest asset I have! Instead of working two jobs, I needed to give my full attention to the one I already loved. I just needed to put forth the extra effort and do more.
Most states offer some type of expanded functions for dental assistants. Check your state to see what your expanded functions cover. In my state of Missouri, one of my favorite expanded functions is prosthodontics. I love crown and bridge. But what I’ve found I love even more is dentures. Dentures? WHAT? How on earth could anyone love dentures? Everybody hates them — the patient, the doctor, the staff. Nothing good ever came of dentures. All anyone with dentures ever does is complain about how much they hurt, how they won't stay in, the nasty taste of the adhesives, how they can't chew or taste their food ... you name it. One time when I took a maxillary denture out of a patient's mouth, I saw that the entire pallet was covered with green beans. Ewwwwwwww!
I noticed how frustrated my boss was with each denture case. But what I also saw was opportunity. If things weren't going well, the doctor blamed the lab tech and the lab tech blamed the doctor. I heard the complaints and I wanted to help. The only way I could do that was to take control and become educated. What does it take to make a denture? What was I looking for? What did the patients want from a denture?
I learned a long time ago that successful people don't always have all the answers, but they surround themselves with people who do. So with the help of some very knowledgeable lab techs, I set out to conquer the baffling world of dentures. They not only educated me on what to do, they told me why I was doing it. That made everything fall into place. From the preliminary impression to delivery, I now understand every step. Dentures aren't scary anymore. Now not only are we producing fantastic looking, quality dentures, but my doctor appreciates the fact that I put forth the effort to accomplish what we once thought was impossible. The more educated I become, the more valuable I become, and the more money I make!
Knowledge is power, and I use it to reach new heights every day. By educating myself, I can then educate my patients. This makes me a valuable asset to my office and team. In turn, I gain the respect of my patients, doctor, and team members.
When I teach dental assisting, I tell my students that they will get out of the course what they put into it. And the truth is, life is that way too. By putting forth extra effort, people can reap the benefits of a long and prosperous career and rewarding life.
Do you jump out of bed in the morning, excited to start your day? If you're playing Whack-a-Mole with your alarm clock, maybe it's time to break out of your comfort zone and shake things up! You are only as valuable as you choose to be. The only limits to your success are those that you place on yourself. How valuable are you?
Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, is a 1981 graduate of the Missouri College, and has more than 30 years of chairside experience. She is currently the office manager/chairside assistant to Dr. Eric Hurtte of O’Fallon Mo. She is a member of the ADAA, sits on the board of the ILDAA, founder of the Dental Assistants Study Club of St. Louis, director of the Dental Careers Institute, and an independent consultant specializing in assistant training, team building, office organization, and CEREC assistant training. She can be reached at
Top Ten Reasons to be a Member of the ADAA
I have had the privilege of serving as President of the ADAA this past year. Among other things, I have traveled around the country to a variety of meetings and had the opportunity to meet with and talk to dental assistants and dental assisting students. Unfortunately one of the things I’ve heard a lot is “I never heard about the ADAA before”. It seems the organization is a well-kept secret, but it shouldn’t be!
My membership in the ADAA has provided me with innumerable benefits (that aren’t going to be listed on a ‘list of member benefits’) and that are priceless to me. I have grown through challenges, enjoyed some great fun with great people, developed character and skills, and done things I didn’t think I could.
So, why should you be a member of the ADAA? What makes membership in your professional organization worthwhile? Well, here are a few things to consider – and I encourage you to step into membership – and discover some of these great benefits for yourself!
1. There’s Power in Numbers
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but dental assisting is a bit like David (in the David and Goliath story). Even though there are more practicing dental assistants than any other member of the dental health team, our voice isn’t as big. As our membership grows, however, our voice gets bigger and changes to the profession can be made that can have a positive impact on your daily work environment. But that only happens when you join. More members mean a bigger voice – there’s power in numbers.
2. Networking and Connections
One of the best things for me is to be able to pick up the phone or send an email to a colleague in another part of the country and get the help I need or a question answered – all because I now have friends and colleagues sprinkled around the country - because of my membership in the ADAA. If I need a job, I know to whom I can turn – and if they don’t know, they know someone who does.
Did you know you could travel to meetings? Or learn how to speak in public? Maybe you want to develop some leadership or organizational skills. Being a part of the organization provides you with the opportunity to do any, all, or none of the above. But the opportunity is there for you!
4. Tangible Benefits
In addition to the intangible benefits like networking and such, there are real, tangible benefits to membership as well. Things like malpractice insurance, free continuing education, publications, and resources help to make your life as a dental assistant easier. Whether you are a CDA or not, front office or back, there is something for you.
5. Have a voice
Are you happy with the profession and where it’s going? There are lots of potential changes to the delivery of dentistry in the coming years. Would you like to be able to have a say in what that looks like? Members have the opportunity to have a voice into things that shape and change our profession – like our scope of practice and education requirements. Do you have opinions about these things? Join us and let your voice be heard!
6. Be Taken Seriously
Sometimes we have to ‘put on our big girl panties’ before those around us will pay attention to us. That can be especially true in the dental office, don’t you think? It’s like the adage about you get out of it what you put into it – being a member of your professional organization sets you apart as someone who is serious about their job and career. As you learn and grow, you will gain the respect of those around you.
7. Find Friends and Colleagues with Like Interests
Having friends and colleagues with whom I can talk about my work and the newest material or techniques is a good thing. No one knows or understands the struggles and frustrations – and joys – of dental assisting like another dental assistant. Being a member gives you a group of assistants with whom you can connect, whether at an education meeting or over lunch.
8. Be the Best You Can Be
By being involved in the ADAA, you will have access to the latest information and resources available that puts you on the cutting edge. Did you know that the research shows that those who are members of their professional organization stay in the field longer and make more money?
9. Opportunities to Give Back
Members of the professional organization have the opportunity to give back in a variety of ways – from volunteering in the organization to participating in charitable events to donating time, money or skills. Serving in this way is a wonderful reminder of the blessings we all enjoy.
10. Your story
I’ve shared my ‘story’ with you – but what about you?
For those of you who are members already, what is your reason for being a member of ADAA?
What do you find to be the best reason to be a member?
I’d love to hear what you have to say – send me an email at email@example.com
If you decide not to join, I’d love to hear what you have to say, too, so send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Dental Assistants
What makes an effective dental assistant? Have you ever wondered why some excel at their work and others bounce from practice to practice and are unfulfilled? What’s the difference between what I call a “$5 dental assistant” and someone who is valued in the practice? Stephen Covey addresses issues that affect this in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What do his 7 habits look like when applied to dental assisting?
As dental assistants we work as part of a team, but we work for someone else. It is very easy to fall into the trap of feeling as if we have no control over our work and in turn our career – and that can bleed into our view of our life. A proactive assistant is one who takes responsibility – for their life, their choices and their career. Taking responsibility actually gives a person choice and is empowering. They accept others (and their choices) as they are. A proactive person has the confidence to make choices for themselves even when their peers may not agree with them.
The opposite of proactive is reactive (acting afterwards instead of before), inactive, or passive. So a reactive person is dependent on the circumstances around them. They rely on others in their decision-making and are easily affected by others’ opinions. You may hear a passive person say things like “I can’t do that”, “That won’t work” or “I don’t have a choice”. They blame others for their choices and mistakes (“I did that because . . .” “I couldn’t help that because . . .” or “It’s not my fault because . . .”). While on the surface it seems like this gets the person off the hook, in reality, they are letting others take control of their life.
Begin With the End in Mind
A highly effective dental assistant has a vision for his/her life. Have you thought about your career goals? Where do you want to be in 3 years . . . 5 years . . . 20 years? A highly effective assistant knows where he/she is going and is working to make that happen. Why are you in dentistry? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to earn a license or credential? Get advanced training? Continue your education?
If you haven’t given this much thought, you run the risk of looking back in 20 years and wondering how you got where you are – and it gives others the power to shape your career path because you are not in touch with who you are or what your life goals are. Stephen Covey has said “if your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster”.
Perhaps it’s time to develop a personal mission statement that focuses on what you want to be and do with your career. This could include your philosophy of practice – what kind of practice do you want to work in – size, type and delivery of care etc.
Put First Things First
A highly effective dental assistant has the ability to say NO. Why on earth would you want to say no? A highly effective dental assistant knows that life balance is really important to overall health. While there are lots of things you could spend your time on, you need to decide (based on our personal mission, values and priorities) how you want to spend your time. When you make decisions based on these values and priorities, there’s no guilt or conflict about the right choice.
Have you ever been around someone who doesn’t know how to say no? They may be doing too many things and not doing any of them well. Or perhaps they’re neglecting other aspects of their life, like their physical or emotional well-being – or perhaps their own family. Many times this comes from not knowing who they you are, where they’re going or how to get there.
Dentistry is a team environment – or at least it’s supposed to be, isn’t it? But how many times do those in the office become territorial, catty, backbiting or focused on production instead of the patient? This then becomes a Win-Lose situation, doesn’t it?
A Win-Win viewpoint is about seeing life and situations with a paradigm of ‘we can all get what we want’. This frame of mind looks for ways of mutual benefit in situations. Instead of trying to “win” (which implies that someone “loses”), a highly effective dental assistant looks for agreements and solutions. In order to be able to do this, though, you have to be true to your feelings and values and be able to express them with consideration of others – and believe that everyone can win.
Seek first to understand, then to be understood
Communication in dentistry is huge, isn’t it? We need to effectively communicate with the patient, the doctor and our co-workers. It can get a bit tangled up sometimes, though. We need to remember that we are in a profession of service – and as such we need to be willing to put the needs of others (especially the patient) ahead of our own.
When we insist on being right or making our point (perhaps because we don’t agree), we do so at the risk of ignoring or minimizing the other person.
When we can really engage and listen empathetically to the patient, doctor or co-worker, we have an increased ability to really understand their point of view and feelings. It’s easy to think, though that if we let them know that we understand that it also means we agree with them, but that’s not the case.
Synergy can be energizing. What does it mean? The definition is: to cooperate with another to remedy something; two or more people working together to create a result not obtainable by one person. That’s an exciting concept, isn’t it? When it’s working, it is! Some of the most fulfilling things I’ve been involved in have happened as a result of synergy.
We have the opportunity to work synergistically in dentistry all the time, don’t we? In order to do this, though, one must be open to others’ suggestions (sometimes it’s the doctor who’s not open, though, huh?) and new solutions. It requires the understanding that different is good and that because of these differences, we each bring something different to the table – and together the solution and ideas are better because of it – and the dental practice will be better for it, too.
Sharpen the Saw
In addition to popular authors, there is reference to this principle in the scriptures. The concept is that we work more effectively when we’re fresh and sharp. How can we expect to treat our patients and co-workers with consideration, looking for mutual benefit in conflict when we’re not taking care of ourselves and are out of balance?
What does ‘sharpening the saw’ look like? It will be different for each of us, depending on how we’re treating ourselves. You may need to pamper yourself – or challenge yourself. Physically it may mean, eating better, exercising – or resting. Socially it may mean spending time on our relationships. Spiritually we may need to spend time in nature or appreciating art or practicing prayer or meditation.
As it relates to your career, it may mean staying current through continuing education or advancing your career through education, volunteering your skills or becoming involved in your professional organization.
So, how do you measure up? How effective are you? Are you taking responsibility for your own choices? Do you know where you’re heading? Are you consciously aware of your priorities and values? Do you look for ways that everyone can get what they want? Are you open to others’ suggestions and able to work cooperatively with them? Do you take time to keep yourself sharp and in balance?
Being a “highly effective” dental assistant will make you an asset to any office and increase your value – and make you a more well-rounded person outside the office, too.
The Wonderful World of Multitasking - that’s Dental Assisting!
When you decide on a career in the field of dentistry, you start with a lot of choices. There’s dental assisting . . . or hygiene . . . or maybe dental school . . . or even lab tech. And how do you choose? They each have different pros and cons, don’t they?
For those who choose dental assisting, there are more choices available . . . do you want to work clinically as a chairside assistant or in the front office as a business assistant? The choices continue as you grow in your career, affording the opportunity to work in a specialty practice or perhaps in the insurance field or as a sales rep - and there's also teaching, which I chose to do. You know, I have never regretted my choice of dental assisting as a career - because there are so many choices! And if you ask any assistant who's been in the field very long, they will tell you that they love dental assisting not just because of the patients but the variety it provides.
Most of us start as a chairside assistant - and that’s where multitasking really comes in. When I look at all the other disciplines in the broad area of dentistry, I can’t think of one that provides more opportunities for multitasking than assisting. And that’s a good thing. Think about it. No matter how long the day may seem, a day in dental assisting is never monotonous or boring. There are so many different tasks to perform that the day seems to fly - everything from seating patients, taking xrays, making temporary crowns, placing sealants, ligating arch wires, temporary fillings and more. And in your spare time you might be pouring a model, trimming a die, polishing a denture, or helping out in the front office by calling patients or pulling charts. At the end of the day, you may be exhausted, but never bored!
The wonderful world of multitasking in dental assisting exposes us to patient relations, infection control, radiation safety, technology, HIPAA, OSHA and, for some, supervision of personnel. These are serious responsibilities when you consider that you have as your first responsibility the well being of other human beings. And yet the multitasking with all its demands keeps us versatile, interested - and interesting - with a high need to remain current.
A busy brain is not one that’s going to get stale. Particularly if you feed it good solid information to prepare it for the coming days of your career. Take a look at ADAA’s continuing education catalog if you don’t think that dental assisting is a varied, challenging job. Pharmacology, radiology, infection control, patient relations and lots more. Please don’t say “I’m just a dental assistant” where I can hear you!
If you take your job seriously you’ll find that the wonderful world of dental assisting leads you to other wonderful life choices as you find your niche in clinical, administrative, specialty, education or sales - all of which are challenging and rewarding. (I didn’t mention fun, but you can have fun, too.)
And while you’re busy multitasking, taking time for continuing education and, we hope, having a little fun, also take the opportunity to join your fellow dental assisting professionals at the American Dental Assistants Association. For over 80 years we’ve been helping dental assistants develop their profession as we help them develop themselves as professionals.
Our members receive free, unlimited, on-line education and discounts at many educational events. There’s also professional liability included with ADAA dues and accidental death insurance too. There are newsletters in areas of special interest and our Dental Assistant Journal is available both in print and on-line. On the personal side, we have a credit card program for members, a discount pharmaceutical program, discounts at Office Max, and just for fun, at Alamo and National car rental and Choice Hotels and more.
Visit our web site www.dentalassistant.org. It’s a great site with loads of information and the fastest way to acquaint yourself with the ADAA and take advantage of our benefits when you join.
So join us: We’re the people who make dental assisting a profession - and you should be one of us!
Claudia Pohl, CDA, RDA, FADAA, BVEd?
President, American Dental Assistants Association?
The people who make dental assisting a profession
ADAA National President 1967-68 - Moselle Comer
Moselle M. Comer, CDA, Chesapeake, Virginia, died July 31. Ms. Comer was national president of the American Dental Assistants Association in 1967-68 and had been active with the association for 18 years prior to her inauguration. She was a life member of ADAA.
She had been a member of the Tidewater DAS and the Virginia DAA holding every office in the local society and had been president and vice president of her state association. As an active member nationally, she had served as an ADAA District Trustee for four years , as a vice president and as chair of several committees. She also served on The Dental Assistant Journal staff for four years. Moselle also serve six years on the Certifying Board of ADAA , presently known as DANB, having served as chair for one year.
"Moselle was very strong in her words of wisdom and made a believer of you when she spoke. No nonsense was her motto. From one member that knew her well: One day she shook her finger at me and said, "You can do this, so do it." The year I became President of ADAA she came to me and said, "See, I told you you could do it", guess she was right. She loved ADAA with a passion. Farewell good friend - Janelle Butler Drake, Former President ADAA 1979-80.
Carol Walsh, CDA, of Virginia stated: "Moselle was also my mentor. I met her at a meeting, January, 1990. She groomed me until the day she died. After all meetings, I had to give her a report whether it was local, state or national. She used to joke me saying, "I created a monster". Then we would both laugh.
Boy do I miss her."
During her term of office, she espoused the need for establishing more and longer formal training programs for dental assistants and the need for growth in membership to keep the ADAA as a leader in its field. Moselle was a true professional in dental assisting and in the ADAA.
Donations in Moselle Comer’s memory may be made to Severn United Methodist Church, 1612 Doolittle Mill Road, Conway, NC 27820.
You are cordially invited to attend the 2ndAnnual
Dental Assistant Day
GREATER NEW YORK DENTAL MEETING
Sponsored by the Second District of ADAA
New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania Dental Assistant Associations
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
9:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
JACOB K. JAVITS CONVENTION CENTER
655 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10018
All participants MUST register for the DA Seminar through the GNYDM
Carolyn Breen, Ed.D., CDA, RDA, RDH, President ADAA - Program Moderator
Chairperson, Department of Allied Dental Education – UMDNJ/SHRP
Lisa Borzumato RDA Instructor – Dental Assistant Program Stony Brook University
Kim McMahon, BS, CDA, RDA, COA, RDH, Instructor-Department. of Allied Dental Education - UMDNJ/SHRP
Robynn Rixse, CDA, EFDA, President-Pennsylvania Dental Assistants Association
Janet Tuthill MA, RDH, Dental Assisting Program Director-Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine
Taking Professional Involvement Beyond the Workplace
Employment Opportunities for Professional and Career Advancement
Role of the DA in addressing access to care
Involvement in the Professional Association
Practitioner and Student Membership in ADAA
Are You in the Right Dental Office?
Claudia G. Pohl, CDA, RDA, FADAA, BVed
President, American Dental Assistants Association
Interesting question, isn’t it? Is it one you’ve thought about? It’s natural to think that all dental practices will be the ‘same’. The reality though is that not all offices are created equal. Some offices are small, single-doctor, and fee-for-service while others are larger, multi-doctor, HMO practices. Additionally, each dentist will have his/her own philosophy, values and style that will affect the practice and how dentistry is delivered.
I remember early in my career when I was doing some temporary work and I worked in many different offices. It was an eye-opening experience for me. I realized then how different dental offices really could be! I had made an assumption that all offices were like the first one I had worked in, but was I wrong! Not only was each office physically set up differently, but also they each had a different personality, management style, value system and philosophy. I quickly realized what kind of practice I was comfortable in – and in what kind of practice I couldn’t work.
What happens if you are in an office that’s not right for you? If you are in an office that doesn’t align with your own philosophy, values and style, you will not be comfortable or happy – you will have internal conflict. What I see with my graduates is that if their first dental office is not a good match for them, they jump to the conclusion that dental assisting isn’t the right career for them. While that might indeed be the case, it’s more likely that they are in the wrong practice for them.
A few years later, when I was working part-time as a clinical assistant, I worked in two different periodontal offices. One was a single-doctor fee-for-service practice and the other was a large, multi-doctor HMO practice. Very different offices. Very different philosophies. It became evident to me that the philosophy of larger, multi-doctor HMO practice was in direct conflict with mine and I wouldn’t be able to stay there. I couldn’t be myself in the practice.
A dental assistant with whom I talked recently said she had been in her first office for about a year and she was thinking about looking for a new position in a different office. Based on what she said, it sounded like the right choice for the right reason. However, when we talked again a couple months later, she hadn’t taken any action. Why? She was ‘comfortable’ in her current position and afraid of making the change. Fast forward . . . she did accept a new position in another office and is SO happy that she did. Not only is she earning more, but more importantly, she is in an office that more closely reflects her own values and philosophy and she is more content.
It’s not a matter of a right or wrong here, it’s just a matter of putting yourself in an environment that closely aligns with who you are. So if any of this resonates with you, I encourage you to face any fears that might hold you back from making a change and take the action necessary that will put you into an office where you can truly contribute and be free to be who you are in the practice.
ADAA is Seeking Officer & Trustee Nominations
Deadline is June 30, 2012.
The American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) is currently accepting nominations for its 2012-13 officers. If you would like to nominate someone for an officer position, please email Nancy Rodriguez
by June 30th. Self-nominations are welcomed and encouraged; if you nominate someone else, be sure they are willing to be put on the ballot before submitting their name.
Nominations are being accepted for the following positions:
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Nancy Rodriguez at 312-541-1550, extension 201 or email@example.com
THE WINNERS ARE COMING
By Shari Becker, 12th District Trustee, Vice Chair - Council on Awards and Scholarships
The winners are coming, the winners are coming…the winners are HERE!
Here is a riddle: What has 11 brains, 22 arms and 22 legs, plenty of smiles and jumps up and down? The answer: See below!
Each year, Oral B, in conjunction with the ADAA, award ten scholarships for qualifying students across the county. The ADAA also sponsors one Student Achievement award for an outstanding dental assisting student.
Juliette A. Southard/Oral-B Education Scholarship Program, named for the founder of the American Dental Assistants Association, is underwritten by Oral-B, ADAA and volunteer donations. Established in 1929, the program awards scholarships to dental assisting students and dental assistants interested in furthering their education in the field of dental assisting. ADAA’s Student Achievement award is presented to one ADAA Student member who has shown the most outstanding achievement as a dental assisting student.
Applications were sent from across the entire United States, from California to New York. The selection process was difficult as so many of the applicants were well qualified. But the ADAA Council on Scholarships took on the challenge of reviewing each and every application very carefully, and was able to narrow down the field.
Well, the results are in and all the applicants and the winners have been notified. It is with much honor that we announce the ten 2012 winners of the *JAS/ORAL-B Scholarships and the one **ADAA Student Achievement Award winner. Congratulations on a job well done!
2012 JAS/Oral-B Scholarship winners
Sandra Bennett-Felty-Manatee Technical Institute-East Campus
Linzi Bokor-Washtenaw Community College
Janiel Bragg-Allan Hancock College
Tamara Butler-Reedley College
Reiley Dahlberg-St Cloud Tech College
Kelly Michael-Stark State College
Leah Munson-Stony Brook State University of NY
Jennifer Raby-Choffin School of Accredited Dental Assisting
Kasey Worley-UNC at Chapel Hill Dental Assisting
Yanbing Xu-City College of San Francisco
ADAA Student Achievement Award winner
Ashley Sasano-Moreno Valley College (Riverside Community College District)
Are you a dental assisting student? Are you an ADAA member? If you answered yes to both questions, you may want to consider applying for our 2013 scholarships. If you are not an ADAA member and are a dental assisting student, ask your teacher to sign you and your entire class up for membership. Discount programs are available to those who qualify and details on membership can be found on the American Dental Assistants Association website at www.dentalassistant.org.
OFFICE CONFLICTS . . . Think about them
Claudia G. Pohl, CDA, RDA, FADAA, BVed
President, American Dental Assistants Association
We all work in an office – some big and some small - and it is a fact of life that when people work together, there will be conflict. So whether it’s the dental office, the faculty office at a school or a sales office that we dental assistants call home away from home, we need to be prepared for periodic conflicts and how to handle them. As a business assistant, it may even be in your job description to resolve them.
In all cases of conflict . . . and there are too many to enumerate here . . . conflicting thoughts and assumptions are usually at the core of the conflict. These thoughts and assumptions often get in the way of positive action and cooperation. Clear-cut lines of communication often help to quash conflict before it starts.
These are some of the more typical areas of conflict, particularly in a dental office:
A) Misunderstanding: “I thought you MEANT . . .”
B) Lack of Communication: I thought you KNEW”
C) Controversy: “I thought that was MY JOB / YOUR JOB.”
A) Misunderstanding If you’re the one in charge and you give a direction, particularly in a new situation or to a new employee, you might want to conclude by saying something like “Okay, just to be sure I’ve been clear, tell me what you’re going to do.” If the other person doesn’t give you what you want, instead of repeating what you’ve just said, perhaps say something like “Sorry, I guess I didn’t say it clearly, let me try again.” I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, just trying to give you the idea that if you think about it there are positive, thoughtful ways to find out what others are thinking and ways to communicate with them to avoid conflict or hurt feelings. Sometimes we think we’re communicating clearly – and we’re not.
Another way that’s effective is to restate what you think the other person is saying, like “what I’m hearing you say is . . .” Then they can correct what’s inaccurate and you can all be on the same page again.
B) Lack of Communication. The absence of clear expectations and job descriptions (which is pretty common in dentistry) can lead to a situation where “Everybody Knows” how to do it step-by-step except that certain someone who hasn’t done it your way and perhaps doesn’t know about a certain step that you think is important. Communicate task procedures in writing in advance and it’s one less thing to have conflict about. Let everyone see them. Put them in a book in a place where they can be reviewed. Write job descriptions and don’t leave anyone out. If there are 3 or 4 assistants in the practice, perhaps each one has slightly different duties. Make sure that each one is described adequately.
C) Controversy. Is there anything that causes more sulking and ill-will than someone (or more than one person) who thinks that they’re doing someone else’s work or that someone is infringing on their territory? It happens a lot in dental offices, doesn’t it? Everything from the front office cleaning a treatment room to back office staff pulling charts or making phone calls to a hygienist polishing one of the docs patients. An attitude of ‘that’s not my job’ or ‘why should I do their work?’ can cause lots of resentment in the work environment. Resentment from an attitude like this can breed faster than bunnies!
In a perfect world, we truly would be a dental “team” – helping out wherever needed, regardless of our job description! One of the best ways to foster a team attitude is to model it – be the one to start it in your office. Be willing to clean a treatment room if they’re running behind or bag some instruments. It’s amazing the affect that can have on the morale in the office.
As with so many potential areas of controversy, advance planning, thoughtfulness and empathy might solve the problem or divert it completely. Empathy plays a huge role in effectively dealing with conflict resolution. Some of us are naturally empathic and others need to try to develop empathy or at least take clues from the experts. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and respond with that in mind can go a long way to minimizing the fallout when conflict happens.
There’s an excellent article in the May/June issue of the Dental Assistant Journal about conflict resolution written by Ronda Savage (Dr. Savage is the CEO of Miles Global, formerly Linda Miles Associates). It’s information that you can use to help build your leadership skills as a manager or help all staff members to become better listeners and better communicators.
Take a little time to read this article in print in the Journal or online at our website
(the Journal is now online - and for the rest of the year is available to everyone - not only our members and subscribers).
So when I think of conflicts, I try to think of solutions and prevention. I think of what I’d like out of the situation if I were a player in the conflict. Sometimes I think I can use the advice of the experts, and for certain I think . . . I know . . . it’s important that we don’t let these conflicts go unresolved because we all want our home away from home to be a place we enjoy!
A Message from the ADAA President: Standing Out By Being Outstanding in Your Field
Claudia G. Pohl, CDA, RDA, FADAA, BVed
President, American Dental Assistants Association
I recently chatted with an office manager at a local dental practice who had ‘come out of retirement’ when asked to join the practice. It caused me to wonder, why would they seek her out? What made her more desirable than someone else who was looking for a job? What set her apart from the others and made her a valuable asset to that practice? What are
the qualities of a valuable dental assistant? What are the qualities that will ensure that you and I keep our job, especially in these tight economic times? What are the qualities that would set me above others when looking for a job? A phrase that describes this in the business world is "value added," so as it applies to us, what does it mean to bring value to the practice? What does that look like?
At a recent ADAA Roundtable, a group of students, clinical assistants, educators, military and business assistants talked about this very issue. The consensus was that there are several things that assistants can do to set themselves apart whether looking for that first job or looking for a change – or even to keep yourself a cut above the rest. Here are some of their comments:
Learn – in education it's called being a life-long learner and it's really just an attitude that stems from having an interest in and wanting to excel at what you do.
Be a member of your professional organization
Attend meetings - continuing education/professional meetings
Stay current with the newest techniques and materials
Maintain a license or credential even if your state doesn’t require it
Educate – how willing are you and how good are you at sharing what you know with others?
Look for ways to teach oral health care to your patients
Participate in community service
Share your knowledge and expertise with others in the practice
Initiative – wanting the best for and caring about the patients and practice
Show up on time
Be willing to work past quitting time – not being a clock watcher
Come up with new solutions
Attitude – More than anything else, this is really important. I've often been told that very seldom is an assistant let go because of poor hard skills ( taking a good x-ray, impression etc) but that it's usually a lack of soft skills.
Be a team player
Get along with co-workers
Have a good work ethic
Leave your problems at home
Take responsibility for your actions
Be cooperative, not competitive
So, how do you stack up against this list? What area could you improve upon? And, of course, the things that you are doing is the value that you do bring (or could bring) to the practice - making you more than just a dental assistant, but a huge value to your patients and practice!
Truth or Dare: Common Myths of Membership in the ADAA
During the Hinman Dental Meeting in Atlanta last month, I had the opportunity to participate in the ADAA Round Tables. As I spent time with dental assistants from GA, NC, SC, TN, VA and OH, I had the chance to find out what it’s like to practice dental assisting in each of those states. We live thousands of miles apart, and while some things are very different, things are also very much the same.
While talking with my peers from across the country, the conversation eventually turned to ADAA membership. I must say I was a bit surprised by some of the answers I heard to their perceptions of and membership in the ADAA. So, here are some truths to common myths about the ADAA. I dare you to read it!!
I’m not a member because I’m not certified.
You don’t have to be certified (or registered or licensed . . .) to be a member. The ADAA is a member organization and the only ‘requirement’ is that you are a dental assistant. Membership in ADAA is very inclusive, including students, military assistants, business assistants, educators, sales reps etc. It includes dental assistants who are on-the-job-trained and who’ve graduated from school.
I don’t want to go to meetings every month!
Membership does not require you to attend any meetings at all. That said, why are there meetings? Meetings provide continuing education and a chance to network with other assistants in your area. The ADAA provides quality education through live and home study courses. The great benefit is there is a choice for you to keep yourself current and educated to stay up-to-date within the profession. Whether you choose live courses or home study, the ADAA is your connection to education.
Why should I join? . . . I don’t get more money because of it.
No, you probably won’t make more money because of it – directly, anyway. However, research shows that assistants who are members of their professional organization stay in the field longer and do make more money. Why? Membership in a professional organization demonstrates that an assistant is serious about his/her career - the more educated and vested assistants are in their careers, the more likely they are to be a part of their professional organization!
When I think of the ADAA, I think of having to pay dues.
Well, it’s true that you do have to pay dues if you’re a professional member. I don't know of any professional organization that does not require dues. Did you know that a portion of your dues goes to your individual states to support legislative efforts to maintain and/or establish state licensure for dental assistants? Not to mention all the other wonderful benefits our professional members enjoy. And all of that for only 33 cents a day! You can join as an e-member for free, but you have limited benefits.
So does this need to be renewed every year? How much are the dues?
Yes, like any membership, it needs to be renewed each year (at the end of the year). The membership is tri-partite, meaning that when you join the ADAA, you automatically become apart of the state organization and a local organization. Each state has its own dues structure, but on average, the yearly dues are $121.
So, what are the benefits?
You will receive our publication 6 times a year, have access to unlimited free online CE courses, liability insurance, free resume/job postings, scholarships and awards. We also have hotel, car and credit card discounts - these are just a few of the benefits you will enjoy as an ADAA professional member.
But the biggest benefits for me are the intangible ones. I have been a member for 37 years and in that time have met other assistants at those meetings who have now become my friends. I now have friends and contacts across the country who I can call on – like the time a student was moving to another state and I was able to contact a fellow member in that state to help her. Another time as I preparing for accreditation at my school and had no idea what to do, a friend sent me a box full of her materials to use. To me, those connections are priceless.
The other intangible benefit is that the ADAA is the voice of dental assisting and works on your behalf to make it the best profession possible. State organizations work in each of your states to bring legislation that will improve the practice of dental assisting. So, even if you are a member that chooses not to go to meetings or volunteer as a leader, your membership gives that voice more influence and power behind it as we work on your behalf.
There’s not a local group in my area.
Most states do have groups called societies within driving distance, but not always. New societies or study groups can be formed anywhere there are interested dental assistants. It only takes 2 people to start a local…what a great opportunity to make a difference and create a local for yourselves and the community! The ADAA offers guidance with manuals on how to start a local in your area as well as support from your district trustee . . . all designed to help you get started and be a success.) But even in the absence of a local group, the benefits of membership are worth it!
So, there's the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about membership in the ADAA. Now, for the dare - how serious are you about your career? Are you "just a dental assistant"? Or are you a health care provider? There’s a big difference between the two - so I dare you to join the thousands of other professional dental assistants who are already members!! You can find membership information on our website at
. Don’t delay . . . do it today!