06/07/11-Rose Schmeichel

05/17/11-Sheila Clancy

05/03/11-Carol Walsh

04/12/11-Patricia Pepe

03/29/11-Kristy Eddleman

03/15/11-Jena Payne

03/08/11-Ruby Roach

02/07/11-Lois Bell

11/23/10-Elizabeth Schmidt

11/16/10-Lisa M. Lovering

09/07/10-Heather Strobel

08/24/10-Leslie Canham

08/03/10-Carmen Fuller

06/08/10-Gary Jacobs

05/25/10-Jacqueline Halverson

05/18/10-Katherine Carrasco

05/11/10-Grace Holden

04/27/10-Lori Barnhart

04/06/10-Emily Pascavage

03/23/10-Susannah Prestridge

03/08/10-Cynthia K. Bradley

02/23/10-Patty Harrington

12/07/09-Shanita Sylvain

11/09/09-Connie Kracher

09/01/09-Cora Lee

07/24/09-Marthann Dafft



A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Rose Schmeichel, CDA


I went to college and majored in business.  After I got married, my husband and I moved to our hometown where there was an opening at the only dentist office.  I assumed I could be the receptionist, but the office only had one assistant so I had to quickly learn many responsibilities.  I was secretary, bookkeeper, assistant, x-rays developer and floor scrubber.


When I moved to Sioux Falls in 1959 my co-worker Evelyn Boese, who was very dedicated to dental assisting, encouraged me to join the local and state association, and the ADAA.  She also persuaded me to do a clinic at our state meeting.  Her dedication made me smitten with the profession.


Belonging to an organization like that ADAA that works and supports the profession of dental assisting is wonderful.  I am fond of the many friendships I have established.  The men and women whom I have met are the best any organization could have.  We all can be very proud of the ADAA.  I have held most all of the offices on the local and state level, including committee chairman, over my 53 year career.


I have worked for six dentists and while they all have their own positive traits, my favorite would be Dr. Kocon, who was my employer for 34 years before his unexpected death.  He had enthusiasm, was encouraging and loved dentistry.  He made me feel the same passion.  He would tell me to always anticipate the next step and I remembered that every day while working.  He taught me to be the best assistant I could be.


I have been a chairside assistant for over 50 years, but have also assumed front desk duties.  I enjoy chairside assisting the best.  My love and concern for the patients, helping them through their procedures, gives me satisfaction at the end of the each day.  Assisting gives the one-on-one opportunity to have a patient’s attention and to gain their trust.


From when I began, dental assisting has changed so much.  I was certified through a 104 hour course in 1960.  Today, dental assisting schools do a fantastic job of educating new assistants.  Dentistry is the best it has been in over 50 years; both for the profession and the patients.  It is constantly changing as new techniques, materials and equipment become available.  We, as dental assistants, must rise up to meet those expectations through education and training.


I am grateful for the awards and recognition I have received from fellow dental assistants.  My greatest accomplishments would be receiving the National Loyal Assistant, the Sullivan-Schein Award of Excellency for 7th District and the DANB award for 50 years of certification, which is located at the Dr. Harris National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore.


My advice to new assistants is to get to know what your profession can do for you.  Also, know your association and the assistants who help to support it.  They are your strength and success.  Be prepared for distractions along the way and make wise decisions.  It would be beneficial to assistants if we were recognized by the dentists and given more credit.  We enable them to do their best and to have a successful practice.


I appreciate the many mentors I had in the beginning years of my career and credit them for pioneering dental assisting in South Dakota.  My best memories are attending six national meetings.  Going to a national meeting gives you the shot of enthusiasm, because you are invigorated by being around so many dedicated professional.  You can’t wait to return home and put it all to work.  I can’t imagine ever doing anything else and enjoying it as much as dental assisting.


Rose - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Sheila Clancy, CDA, MBA

Sheila Clancy



When I graduated from high school, I enrolled in a nursing program at Northeastern University.  In my first year there I attended all of my basic science courses and many of my classes included students in the dental assisting program.  When I later decided that nursing was not for me, I thought that dental assisting would be a wonderful career move.


Afterwards, I took a review course in order to take the DANB exam to become a Certified Dental Assistant.  I worked hard to attain my CDA certification, and although I no longer work as a chairside assistant I maintain that certification by taking CE courses throughout the year.  I also earned an MBA six years ago.  I am a huge proponent of continuing education.


I have worked for four dental practices, most of them orthodontic practices.  In my last position I was the administrator of a large pediatric, orthodontic group practice.  It was my favorite position as it allowed me to use both my clinical and business skills.


My career has taken me down several different paths.  I worked chairside for half of my career, and when I earned my undergraduate degree in business administration I was offered a position as an administrator.  For 16 years I continued in this position.  As the practice grew, so did I: as a national speaker on practice management issues, author of many articles on practice management and finally as a consultant.


As a consultant I love interacting with the staff in many different practices.  I enjoy mentoring office managers and working with their dentists to develop systems and leadership skills that will bring their practices to the next level.
I discovered the ADAA when I looked for an organization where I could interact with fellow dental assistants.  In my area I found a local and attended one of their meetings.  I became an ADAA member in 1992.


The first time that I attended an ADAA Annual Session, I was so impressed with the professionalism and knowledge of the other delegates and officers carrying on the governance of our organization.  That is a lasting memory for me.


I have been active in the ADAA at the local and state level for over 19 years, holding various positions in Massachusetts including two terms as President.  I am currently the President of the Indiana Dental Assistant Association.  I also serve on the ADAA’s Strategic Planning Committee.


As President of the Indiana Dental Assistant Association, I have the privilege of speaking with dental assisting students here in Indiana.  I tell them that I consider the networking opportunities that membership gives you to be the biggest benefit.  Being an ADAA member has opened many doors for me.  When I moved from Massachusetts to Indiana six years ago, I had an instant circle of wonderful friends.


Dental assisting is a career that offers incredible opportunity for growth. Healthcare in general is one industry that holds continuous opportunities for employment.  I also see that more young men are enrolling in these programs and I believe that is a positive sign of dental assisting as a viable career path.


I tell dental assisting students that no matter the path they take, always be involved in your profession.  This means “showing up” for continuing education, association involvement and community activities.  I tell them that Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, “Decisions are made by those who show up.”



Email – saclancy@msn.com
Employer – Clancy Consulting


Sheila - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Carol Walsh, CDA

Carol Walsh


I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after high school.  Due to cost, college was not an otion at the time.  I was living in Florida when I received a pamphlet from a non-accredited vocational school for dental assisting in Atlanta, Georgia.  It made me think that dental assisting might be a great career so I applied and off to Atlanta I went.


I started out as a chairside assistant, but now I am in office management.  I enjoy both, but think my talent is best served in management.  I am a Certified Dental Assistant and I take all types of classes; from chairside, front office, management and communication.  I’ve worked with nine different dentists over the course of my career.  They were all favorites because I grew from each practice due to the diversity in each.


I joined the ADAA when I went to a seminar sponsored by the Orlando Dental Assistants Society, in 1973.  The ADAA is wonderful, and I feel honored to be part of an organization that supports and educates the profession of dental assisting.  I have attended many memorable meetings and made a lot of friendship because of the ADAA.


I have held many different positions with the ADAA.  It started back when I first joined; I served as Secretary, Treasurer and President of the Orlando Dental Assistants Society.  Currently I am the Immediate Past President of the Illinois Dental Assistants Association, Vice President of the Chicago Dental Assistant Association and serve on the Bylaws Committee for the ADAA.  I have served as the Education Chair and President for the Chicago DAA and President for the Illinois DAA.  I have served as a Board Member for both, along with various other positions.


The best part of my job is the patients and the friendships you make with them over the years.  One of my most memorable patients was Kathy.  She had just come back from a trip and told us that while flying out, the plane had to make an emergency landing.  She stated that she was not worried about being identified if something happened because she knew that Carol at her dental office was organized and would have all her dental records ready.


My greatest accomplishment as an assistant is making the patients feel good about coming into the office.  I hope that dental assisting gains more recognition and honor as a profession, like it deserves to have.  I believe people will see the value of dental assistants.  Dental assisting is a great profession and it makes a great career.  I look forward to continue working for my employer to the fullest and promoting the ADAA.  I also plan to use my vocation more in volunteer work.





Dr. Ronald Treiber: Deerfield, IL


Carol - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Patricia Pepe

Patrica Pepe


I always wanted to work in the medical or dental field since I was little.  When I was younger, I used to go to the dentist and she would tell me she was going to hire me when I was of age.  That always stuck with me.


I decided to pursue dental assisting as a career after working in the front office of a dental practice.  I researched schools to study for the dental x-ray license.  After that, I became certified in CPR and then I studied for my CDA.  I am planning on taking the expanded duties exam to become an RDA this year, and I plan on eventually returning back to school and becoming a Dental Hygienist.


When I was taking my CDA course, I heard about the ADAA and I decided to join in 2010.  I wanted to be a part of an association that recognized dental assistants and was there for dental assistants.  I feel like I am part of a great big family that offers many rewarding opportunities.  I look forward to meeting everyone at the meetings that are held by the ADAA.


Since I am new to the ADAA, the first memory I have is the wonderful card I received just the other day from the president herself, Natalie, congratulating me for the Dental Assistant of the Year Award.  That truly shows how much the ADAA cares for members by taking the time to write a beautiful card.  This to me will be a lasting memory and hopefully I will make many more memories in the years to come.


I have worked for nine dentists over the years. I truly believe in my heart that all of the dentists I work with are my favorite.  They all took the time out to teach me different procedures and explain them to me.  Besides my main office, I assist part time at a clinic in Jersey City, NJ.  We offer free screenings and free cleanings to the general public.  It saddens me to see that the patients need lots of work, and there are waiting lists in other clinics and hospitals for these patients to be seen.


The best part of my job is getting to know all the patients.  Being able to assist them, help them and understand their needs is a joy.  Seeing a patient happy with the service we have provided them and their thoughtful comments means I have succeeded in a job well done.


I am very excited and surprised to be Dental Assistant of the Year.  It is a prestigious award and it is my greatest accomplishment.  I saw the award in the Certified Press and mentioned it to the doctors at the office.  One doctor nominated me the day I mentioned it by sending out a letter on why he felt I should be nominated, and then all the other doctors also wrote letters.  I was really overwhelmed with joy when I saw the letters they wrote describing me as a person, as their friend and as their dental assistant.


I have come a long way, and love what I have accomplished in this field.  The patients feel comfortable with me when I discuss their treatment plans.  They trust and value my opinion on what treatment is right for them, which is so amazing.


I see dental assisting advancing more in the years to come, where we will be able to do more expanded functions and be recognized as a valuable part of the dental team.  Dental Assisting is not just an ordinary job; it is a wonderful career.  It can definitely be challenging in the beginning, but once you know what to do everything becomes part of the routine.  The opportunities are excellent from the very beginning and it is a very rewarding career.







Gerard R. DeSapio, DDS


Particia - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Kristy Eddleman




I first considered a career in Dental Hygiene, but after looking at both careers, I decided on Dental Assisting.  That has been one of the best decisions that I have made.  I went to an ADA accredited school and received a one year diploma in dental assisting.  I continue my education by attending dental assisting meetings.


In my 30 year career I have worked for 2 dentists.  My favorite was Dr. George Stuart.  He was an example of a “Great Leader.”  I’ve worked as a chairside assistant, clinical instructor at Central Piedmont Community College and a Practice Administrator.  I am currently working with Harvey Smith at Carolina Business Coach, where we are presenting communication and leadership workshops in Dental Offices and at Dental Conventions.  I love being in contact with people!  I enjoy the relationships that are built through working with people.


When I became involved with organized dentistry, it gave me the opportunity to serve as President of NCDAA.  That was an exciting experience.  My most memorable experience, though, was when the patient had an allergic reaction in the chair and we called for emergency help.  Dr. Stuart traveled with the patient to the hospital.


I hope dental assisting students appreciate how you can touch people’s lives with a caring attitude.  Give back to your community.  Become involved with the professional organization in your area.  Being a part of the ADAA gives you a community to support you in your profession.  You will get more out of the dental assisting by being involved. 


I am excited to continue delivering business coaching into the dental industry.  At Carolina Business Coach, we believe in the power of improving communication and leadership skills to create better, more efficient and more profitable dental offices. I believe there will always be a need for dental assistants.  Technology can improve the way we utilize assistants, but technology cannot replace the personal touch of a chairside assistant.


About the ADAA

I joined the ADAA as a student in dental assisting school, probably in 1972.  We also presented a table clinic at the state meeting during our year in school.
I have not held any national offices with the ADAA.  However, I have held offices with the Metrolina DAS and North Carolina DAA.  I am a Past President of NCDAA and MDAS.  I currently serve as Treasurer of NCDAA.
The best part of being a member of the ADAA is the relationships you build with other people that care for dentistry as much as you do.  My best memory is when I traveled with Edna Zedaker, a former ADAA president, to my first national convention as a delegate.  She was a special mentor that I will never forget.






Carolina Business Coach


Kristy - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Jena Payne, CDA, RDH, CPDA, CPT




I grew up wanting to become a Radiologist.  However, while attending Lanier Technical College, I met the Dental Assisting Director there.  She convinced me to enter the dental assisting program instead.  I’m so glad she did!
I attended the accredited Dental Assisting Program at Lanier.  I then attended the accredited Dental Hygiene Program at Lanier Technical and Gainesville State Colleges.  I graduated with an Associates of Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene and hold the RDH credential.  I hold the CDA credential, have taken the new DANB expanded functions certification exam and hold the CPDA (Certified Preventive Dental Assistant) credential and am also a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT).

One of the most interesting things that happened to me was while completing my externship in the dental assisting program.  I was assisting a local dentist who was performing a tooth extraction.  After the tooth was removed, a green fluid oozed from the extraction site.  I still remember the dentist asking me afterward if I felt sick.  I just laughed and told him it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.  It was then I knew I had chosen the right profession.
I have been in the dental field for almost 25 years working in the capacity of dental assistant or dental hygienist.  During that time, I have only worked in four dental practices.  I perfected my assisting skills during those years, gaining knowledge from each of my employers.  It’s difficult to choose a favorite because I loved each practice; however, I would say I love where I am now the most.

As Clinic Coordinator at Cleveland Family Dental Center I serve in many capacities.  My skills can be applied clinically as a dental hygienist or dental assistant.  With my Certification in Phlebotomy I often start IV’s on patients undergoing IV sedation.  I also am in charge of the hiring/firing of all clinical staff, inventory control, OSHA compliance and many other tasks associated with my role as Clinic Coordinator.

I also love volunteering!  I go to the Dominican Republic on a medical mission trip every year with co-workers from my office.  Serving others, especially those in need who truly appreciate your efforts, is so rewarding.  This year, a dental supply company graciously donated sealant material so that our dental team could perform preventative treatment to school age children.  Most children in the rural areas of San Juan do not have clean drinking water and will never see a dentist.  To be able to seal, and possibly save, these children’s permanent molars was amazing.  I am also looking forward to volunteering at Georgia’s Mission of Mercy event in August which will offer free dental services to the working poor in our state.

I am in the process of attaining my Fellowship Award with the ADAA and hope to participate in the commencement ceremony at the 2011 ADAA Annual Session in Las Vegas.  I will then proceed with the Mastership Program.  I also want to attain my Expanded Duties Dental Assisting credential this year.

I strongly believe that all states will make registration/licensure mandatory for the chairside dental assist.  A dental assistant is a professional performing important clinical tasks which directly affect patient care.  Our patients already call us “dental nurses.”  We should hold our profession to the same standards as the medical profession.

I wouldn’t change a thing about my career.  I love that I choose dental assisting.  Anyone who is even slightly interested in dental assisting, I only have two word for you, “DO IT!”  You will not regret it.  Dental assisting is a reward, never boring, career choice.


About the ADAA
Around 2006, I wanted to be actively involved with organized dentistry. Naturally the first step is becoming a member of your professional association, which for me is the ADAA.


I love the fact that I can network with knowledgeable professionals from across the country through the ADAA.  They also offer wonderful CE courses at a reasonable fee for members.

I currently serve as Secretary of the newly reactivated GDAA (Georgia Dental Assistants Association) and was honored to serve as a Delegate representing Georgia at the 2010 ADAA Annual Session.  I also serve as a member of the ADAA Membership Council.


I loved serving as a Delegate at the 2010 ADAA Annual Session. Everyone I met was cheerful, energetic and supportive.  New friendships were forged at that meeting which I hope last a lifetime.





Employer info
Cleveland Family Dental Center
Cleveland, Georgia


Jena - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Ruby Roach, CDA RDA



My mother found out about the community college 2-year dental assisting program at Reedley College and, after discussing it with our general dentist, encouraged me to sign up.  The program included the science and business of dentistry, culminating in an A.S. degree.

I loved being able to work with people, our patients and my professional family.  I’ve not had the privilege of working with a lot of different dentists.  I worked during my dental assisting training for my general dentist, part-time.  After completing the dental assisting program at Reedley College in 1964, I accepted a position with Dr. Thomas Thompson.  In 1976 he added Dr. George Clarke, Jr. as a partner and in 2008 Dr. Clarke added Dr. Bruce Havens.

I maintain my CDA and RDA through their continuing education requirements.  However, I prefer and love the uplifting, morale boosting presentations.  Over the years I have generally gone to all of my association’s education programming: Fresno-Madera DAS, California DAA and, as often as possible, ADAA.  Additionally, I go to the American Association of Orthodontists, Pacific Coast Association of Orthodontists and California Association of Orthodontists’ education when I am able.  I’ve been fortunate to take some college and private education classes as well.

I did spend time to get my vocational education community college teaching credential for dental assisting many years ago.  I did teach some, but loved the private practice of orthodontics to much too leave it.

I have been in the administrative area of the orthodontic practice my entire career.  Initially I was the only employee and had to do any task that needed to be completed: front desk, telephone, assisting clinical, sterilization of instruments.  In those days most orthodontic practices were very busy and grew very quickly.  Staff members were added commensurate with the practice growth.

I did not specifically choose the administrative side of the practice.  My employer wanted me to take on the Office Manager/Treatment Coordinator position.  The position afforded me the opportunity to expand my knowledge and grow with the practice.

When I started very few orthodontic offices allowed an employee to present the orthodontic records to the parents/patients, but my employer trained me to be a Treatment Coordinator before the position had a name.  He took me to an AAO Annual Meeting for education when practically no other dental assistants were in attendance.  I was so fortunate and it was very exciting!  I was included as an intricate part of the practice and told that my skills, ideas and opinions mattered.  It still makes me feel good thinking back on that.  My employer continued to take our staff to orthodontic meetings almost every year.  Eventually, dental assistants at the AAO, PCSO and CAO became the norm.

I would love to see more respect given to dental assisting as a profession by dentistry.  Dental assistants must accept responsibility for their own future and realize how much we contribute to dentistry.  Also, I’d really love for all of them to be members of the ADAA, because together we could do anything.
I have always tried to do my best, do what is the right and do my share of the work with honor and respect for my patients, my employer and co-workers.  My advice to succeed is to remember how fortunate you are to be able to share your skills with your patients, to help them achieve optimum dental health.  Know how important you are to your patients, employer and co-workers.


About the ADAA
I had a wonderful instructor at Reedley College, Hazel Torres.  Hazel was the person that first told me of the professional organization and how absolutely critical it was to my career to be involved.  I joined the ADAA as a student member.

I’ve been honored to serve as 12th District Trustee for two terms and Vice President for one term.  Through the ADAA, I’ve met so many people that have been so generous to share knowledge, had so much fun and have seen so many new wonderful places.  I will never forget as a new trustee, how kind and encouraging so many people were, or the late night board meetings in the President’s hotel room.  Being a part of ADAA Board of Trustees was an awesome experience for me.

The best parts of being with the ADAA are the friends and fun!  Also, the education and being at the forefront of what is happening in our profession certainly rates high.  I’m so grateful for our officers, council members and central office staff for their ongoing work.  I know all of those individuals work tirelessly doing what sometimes seem to be thankless tasks.  Let me say it again, thank you to all of them!


Ruby - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Lois Bell, CDA, FADAA

Lois Bell


As a teen in the 1960’s my father was in the Army and stationed at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.  I was part of the Junior Army Navy Guild Organization, which had a dental component to it.  We were classroom trained and then put into dental clinics to work.


In my senior year of high school, I had half day classes and I ended up working with the oral surgeon who took out my wisdom teeth.  We moved to Hawaii in 1974 and I went to work with the president of the Hawaiian Dental Society at the time.  It wasn’t until then that I seriously decided to make dental assisting a career.  He was the one who encouraged and supported me to go to community college.


I have worked all across the country, from Hawaii, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and both the Carolinas.  I have worked in private practices as well as large clinics.  As a result, I’ve worked with many outstanding clinicians.  My favorite ones are those who embodied the ethics of the profession, had true compassion for their patients and respected their staff.


I am a clinical chairside assistant, but have worked the business side as well.  I have seen many changes in the way we practice dentistry, and in the role of dental assistants.  We are now a vital part of the dental team, and are specialized in different areas.


I work with an incredibly talented group of people and take pride in being part of that team.  In this profession, you learn early on that you treat the patient, not just their mouth.  A patient’s trust comes after they sense they are in good hands, and working chairside for multiple appointments allows for relationships to develop.


When a patient trusts and accepts you they allow you into their world.  We have shared many tears, grieved over losses and celebrated joys.  It has made me appreciate the history of our country and the sacrifices of those who serve her, which includes my father, husband and son.


I am fortunate to have been a part of many exciting events centered on dentistry, which includes helping start a program in the 70’s at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum during National Children’s Dental Health Week that united the dental community.


I think among the greatest achievements is earning my ADAA Fellowship.  I have always worked in an environment that has encouraged and supported continuing my education.  Since enrolling in the ADAA’s Mastership program, I have accrued over 70 CEU’s.


In the future, I believe dental assistants will be an even more vital component of the dental team in the access to care crisis.  Many state dental boards recognize education with clinical proficiency is necessary for the delivery of quality dental care, but we need standardized training and mandatory credentialing.


My advice to potential assistants is to not be completely dependent on your employer for furthering your education.  Be responsible for your own career development, because you only get out of it what you put into it.  It is your career, so invest in yourself.  Never stop learning and belong to your professional organization, the ADAA.


I learned of the ADAA through a friend at work when we first moved to Indianapolis in the 70’s.  I joined and got involved.  When we moved to another state, I let my membership lapse because there was no local organization.  In 1996, we moved to Virginia and I resumed my involvement with the ADAA.


The ADAA keeps me connected to my peers and to my profession around the country and the world.  I cherish the friends I have made and I love the credibility of belonging to a professional organization.


My best memory with the ADAA has to be the opening ceremony of the 2002 ADAA National Meeting in Hawaii.  There were US soldiers from around the world in their parade best; polished and gleaming helmets and precision creased uniforms.  This was the inaugural appearance of the US Army upon joining forces with the ADAA.  It was also post 9/11 and emotions were very raw for all of us, but I remember the pride I felt from being a military family and being part of the group representing South Carolina in the dental community.


ADAA Offices Held:

  • Greenville CDAS – President 2003-2005; Vice President 2008-2011
  • Northern Virginia DAS – Education Chair; Committee Member: Nominating, Membership, Ways and Means
  • Indianapolis DAS – Children’s Dental Health Chair 1979-1981; Secretary 1980-1981
  • South Carolina DAA – Vice-President 2002; President 2003-2007; Immediate Past President 2008; Vice President 2008, 2009-2010, 2010-2011; Committee Chair: Membership 2007-2009, SCDAA Website 2006-2007
  • National SCDAA Delegate (7 years); Committees: Council on Education 2011




Employer – U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs


Lois - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!



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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Elizabeth Schmidt, CDA EDDA CDPMA

Louisiana Dental Assistants Association State President



When I was a senior in High School my friends and I were looking over the college catalogs and we decided to attend the dental assisting program together.  At Citrus College in Azusa, California, I attended a two-year program to earn an Associate of Science Degree.  Our final exam was passing the Certified Dental Assistants Exam.  I joined the ADAA as a student member while I was in the program in 1969.

I spent the first years of my dental assisting career moving around Southern California.  I worked for several dentists, and I was intrigued by the different specialties so I spent time working in each.  It would be difficult for me to say which my favorite was, as each offered new teams and a new view into dental assisting.

My first position was a Plaque Control Nurse.  I worked for a General Dentist near my family’s home.  I had my own schedule, and each patient would come to my room and I would work with them on their homecare.  I had the freedom to work with the patients, and some would require several visits.  I actually provided them with a diploma when they were able to correctly clean their teeth.  It was so exciting and I felt I was providing a needed service that the patients would carry with them for a long time.

I worked as a chairside assistant, front desk and office manager.  I enjoyed all the aspects of dental assisting.  I taught dental assisting in Southern California, and I am now a Dental Consultant.  For six years, I have been working with practices and helping with organization, procedures, policies and helping staff achieve their goals and visions for their practice.  My background has enabled me to help the staff clinically and administratively.  I love sharing my knowledge with my clients.  I think it helps that I have been in their position and understand what they are going through so I know how to best assist them.

Dental assisting is expected to be the fastest growing profession, according to the Federal Government statistics.  I would like to see more recognition for the role dental assistants’ play in the practice and I would also like to see an increase in members of the ADAA.  I have always enjoyed the interaction at the Dental Assisting Meetings, whether local or national.

I recommend joining the ADAA, learn as much as you can about the field and yourself, never stop your education.  Make dental assisting your passion; not just your job.  I am the Louisiana Dental Assistant Association’s current President.  I was the Channel City Dental Assistants Association President in 1983, the Pomona Valley Dental Assistants Reservations Chairman between1976-77 and their Vice-President in 1977-78.

Attending my first board meeting is the best memory I have as an ADAA member.  I was enthralled with the people there.  I remember thinking that being a member of the ADAA at the national level was the greatest thing.  I could feel the happiness of the attendees and the passion they felt for their field.  Meeting with people who share the Dental Field with me is the best part of being an ADAA member.  I love talking to other people and find out who they are and what they love about our field.

I wish I could make each role in the practice more appreciated and each staff member more comfortable with themselves and the role they play in the practice. And, I would like to see more required regulation and continuing education.  I have always taken continuing education programs through the ADAA, online programs, and any education that is available.  I always feel rejuvenated when I take CE.  I believe there is nothing more important than education. I will continue my own quest for knowledge and have a strong passion for the field, and am always sharing it with others.  I could always find a home in a dental practice, no matter where I lived.






Elizabeth - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!



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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Lisa M Lovering, CDA, CDPMA, MADAA
10th District Trustee,
Billings, Montana



Being a Certified Dental Assistant is one of the most exciting and rewarding professions I could have ever imagined.  Dental Assisting is more than just a job for me; it is my career.  My career began in December of 1995 and has been going strong ever since.  I am very passionate about what I do.  When people ask me what I do for a living I am proud to say I have the best job ever!  I get paid to educate, inform and help people get the oral healthcare they need and deserve.  I treat everyone as a personal family member.  When I tell people that, they say they want to go to my office and be treated like your family member.


I am a lifetime learner.  Every day for me is a classroom.  I enjoy learning the latest and greatest techniques in dental assisting, as well as staying on top of cutting edge of technology.  I was introduced to the ADAA in 1998 and became a member of this unbelievable organization that promotes professionalism, loyalty, respect and excellence in all we do.  The ADAA offers a wealth of opportunity to every member of the dental team and has provided me with highly developed levels of education so I can delivery quality care to my dental family members.  I encourage everyone to join your professional organization today and become a member of our family.  

In 2002 I was elected as the Montana Dental Assistants’ Association State Treasurer.  I have been on the MDAA board ever since and have served in all capacities except Secretary.  I have served as the State President twice.  Being involved has opened my eyes to a whole new world.


At the ADAA Annual Conference in Hawaii in 2009, I was elected as the 10th District Trustee.  I have been chosen to represent five states, which are; Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  On behalf of these states as their Trustee it is a privilege and honor to work with a caliber of friends that share the same or similar vision.

As a first-time trustee I am learning the importance of good effective communication to your states, which I have been able to do through phone conversations and e-mails.  This has allowed me to build better relationships and new friendships that I know I will have for a lifetime.


As a Trustee, I have felt the love, kindness and support of something bigger that I never could have imagined – a bond to a whole other family.  When I went through a family crisis this year I was given words of encouragement and hope filled with expressions of love, compassion and understanding.  Thanks you all!


Lisa - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Heather Strobel, RDA, CDA

Heather Strobel



Making a career choice
I originally went to college for a business degree in marketing, but the economy took a bad turn so I had to switch my major.  I knew I wanted to work in healthcare so I could help people.  My Aunt Dawn is a Registered Dental Hygienist and she told me about her dental practice.  I knew then that dental assisting was the right career for me.


From there I started researching, and that’s when I discovered dental assistants have many different functions.  I was very impressed and couldn’t wait to find a school to pursue this career.  I chose to go to Baker College of Auburn Hills, Michigan because it was accredited by the ADA (American Dental Association), and it was near my home.


Choosing a school depends what you are looking to make of yourself as a dental assistant and your state requirements.  Personally, I wanted to be able to sit for my state boards, which requires a degree from an accredited school.  Other key aspects I looked were the clinical time you get for your externship and how they place you in an office.


I believe the only way to learn is to make mistakes and experience everything firsthand.  You can read and memorize info about dental assisting, but it’s a whole different world once you’re in the hot seat.  What I found most helpful was my clinical rotation, where I able to practice what I learned my in textbooks.


Now that I’ve graduated and work at a wonderful dental practice using all the skills I learned, I couldn’t be more proud of my decision to pursue this career.  When you love your job and can wake up in the morning, excited to go to work, it makes life enjoyable!  I love preparing the office tray-set ups and working in the lab.  I enjoy working chairside, as well, because I enjoy seeing the patients' satisfaction.


Before I graduated my goal was to be proactive.  I applied for all scholarships and strove to be the best.  I volunteered, which is a great way to network by meeting other assistants, as was my school’s requirement of 330 clinical hours at a dental practice.  Temping or subbing is a great way to make connections, too.


I graduated June 2010, but I am currently returning to school for my business degree so one day I can teach dental assisting. The state of Michigan only recognizes RDAs (Registered Dental Assistants) or dental assistants with radiography certification.  I have sat and passed my RDA state licensure as well as my CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) license.  I say, the more prepared you are the better, because although Michigan does not require a CDA, you never know what changes may be made or what the requirement other states may have if you move.


I definitely think the demand for dental assistants is rising.   Patients are aware of the positive aspects of having a trained dental assist in the dental practice.  I believe that many more RDA and CDA functions are going to pass through legislation and drastically change the dental assistant’s career requirements.  There is always room for improvement in anything, and I think job appreciation and awareness about the profession and career needs to be approved for dental assisting.


ADAA Student Membership
The very first day I was accepted into Baker College of Auburn Hills, Ms. Kelly Roos, the dean of the dental assisting program, explained all the benefits the ADAA had to offer students.  She took pride in her professional organization and I felt I want to belong to an association that could instill that sense of pride in me, so I joined the ADAA in June 2009.


So far being an ADAA member has been very helpful.  The email newsletter, ADAA 24/7, is very informative.  It has articles on the latest studies being published.  I think that the ADAA could be more beneficial to students by creating some contacts between students at other schools so they can talk and work things out, possibly even through an online forum.

Also, I was selected as a recipient of the Juliette A. Southard/Oral-B Education Scholarship, which was such a great honor.  I believe that dental assisting is not just a job, but a career and I plan to let everyone know that.  In my application for the scholarship I explained how I want to further my education to give back to the dental community, along with my long term goals of marketing for private practices or possibly joining a traveling, international dental education team.





Employer – Dr. Thomas P. Warner’s general practice in Rochester Hills, Michigan – www.rochesterhillssmiles.com


Heather - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Leslie Canham, RDA, CDA


Leslie has been an ADAA
member since 2007 and is
currently listed in the ADAA
Speakers Directory.


The Past, Present & Future

My father is a dentist, so I started out in dental assisting as an after school job.  I mainly had on-the-job training for my education, but I later went to a local dental assisting program when I was preparing for the RDA exam.  I have never stopped learning and continue my education mainly with courses on infection control and OSHA requirements.  I have enjoyed three types of careers in dentistry.  The first career was working in dentistry as a chairside assistant, receptionist and office manager.  The second was opening and operating an employment agency for dental personnel.  The third is my current position as a speaker, trainer and consultant.


I’ve worked with seven dentists over the years, but my father was of course my favorite to work with.  He always took the time to educate me on procedures, materials and how to interactive with patients. I worked for ten years as a chairside assistant for my father. He decided to sell his general dental practice and go back to school to specialize in endodontics.  Without a job, I started working as a temporary dental assistant/receptionist.  Soon I got more calls to work as a temp than I had hours available.  I started recruiting my dental assistant friends (people I met through my local dental assistant society) to work as temps.  Some were hired permanently by the dentists I referred them to.  I realized  that our community needed an employment agency specializing in dental personnel.  That is when I started my own agency helping dental professionals find each other for permanent and temporary employment.


Eventually, I moved to northern California to fulfill a lifetime dream to live on a horse ranch.  I got a job with a local dental practice as a dental receptionist and office manager.  Having had my own business, I had a unique perspective of ownership responsibilities.  In 2000, I started conducting the OSHA training for my office.  Gradually other dental offices in my area asked me to provide the training for them and a new career was born.  I now conduct continuing education and training for dental professionals on OSHA, Infection Control, Dental Practice Act, HIPAA and other related topics.  I deliver this training in offices, for dental associations, through home study courses and webinars.  The best part of my job is that after being told what to do by dentists for so many years, I now get to tell them what to do.


Providing education helps everyone get involved.  Dentists know they are operating a safe and compliant business; dental assistants and hygienists have more confidence knowing they are protecting themselves and their patients.  Ultimately patients receive dental care by professionals who are trained in up-to-date strategies for dental infection control and safety.  I think in the future more states will have training programs and licensure pathways for dental assistants to perform more expanded functions.  Science and technology will allow dentists to diagnose a patient’s oral condition remotely via digital images and intra oral cameras.  With the decrease in dentists entering the field and the rate of retiring dentists, I predict that mid-level providers and dental therapists will be a reality.  Paramedics, Paralegals and physicians assistants have evolved, so why not para-dentists?

The best advice I can give to potential assistants is that there are many different career choices in the dental industry.  Don’t ever think you are “stuck” in one job doing the same thing over and over again.  If you start to burn out, look at the thousands of dental companies that serve dentistry.  You may find the perfect job sharing all your knowledge, expertise and people skills.


ADAA Related Questions

I found out about ADAA through a dental assistant who worked for my father.  She invited me to a local dental assistant component society meeting where I became a member.  The best parts of being a member are the camaraderie and knowing that there is a way to be organized with other dental assistants.  My favorite memories come from being a delegate at the national ADAA meetings.  Since joining, I have also served on the local level and state level in the following capacities:

  • San Fernando Valley Dental Assistants Association: President, Employment Chairman, Treasurer, Budget Committee, Education Chairman 1983-1988
  • Southern California Dental Assistants Association: Benevolence Chairman 1986-1987
  • California Dental Assistants Association:  Government Relations Chair 2009-2010, State Director 1987-1988.  Government Relations Chair 2009-2010


Leslie Canham is a speaker and consultant specializing in Infection Control and OSHA compliance.  She is the founder of Leslie Canham & Associates, providing in-office training, mock-inspections, consulting and online seminars to help the dental team navigate the sea of state and federal regulations.  Leslie is a California provider of continuing education and is authorized by the Department of Labor as an OSHA Outreach Trainer in General Industry Standards. Leslie's speaker bio can also be found under the ADAA Speakers Directory.


Leslie can be reached through her Web site www.lesliecanham.com, at Leslie@LeslieCanham.com or at (888) 853-7543.


Leslie - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Carmen Fuller

Carmen Fuller



How did you find out about ADAA?
Through the school instructors, after starting school.


What is the best part of being an ADAA member and how do you think the ADAA can be more beneficial to students?
I like to be informed in my new profession and being a member of ADAA is the best way to do it, through conventions, continuing education, newsletters and more.  The ADAA can help to push for a licensed career profession for dental assistants. 


You recently won the ADAA Student Achievement award from the ADAA.  Tell us a little about what you did to be selected as a recipient?
It was really nothing special.  I was just getting involved with educating the parents and their children’s needs for good oral hygiene habits.  I think that many of the oral problems in patients originate from the lack of early education in oral hygiene, so one of my jobs as a dental assistant is to get involved in communities where I can share my knowledge and make everybody aware of this problem, especially parents.


How did you decide to become a dental assistant and how did you choose your school? What factors should prospective students consider when choosing a school?
After the real estate market collapsed, I decided to pursue a job with steady income potential.  My school choice was based on cost and accreditation.  The most important factor when choosing a school is accreditation.


Has there been a part of your education that has been really helpful for you in the learning process?
The internship provided excellent training.


What do you like about your dental assisting education so far?
I like that many disciplines or areas of dental practice are available to me thanks to the curriculum in the Orlando Tech dental assisting program.


As a Student, what steps are you taking to launch your dental assisting career and are you pursuing your CDA or state certifications?  What are the requirements in your state?
I am completing the final part of certification and preparing to send out resumes; the 3 exams required (Infection Control, Radiation Health & Safety, and General chair side.


Have you worked with any dentists yet and, if so, how was your experience?
Internship allowed me to work with many dentists (general practices and specialty practices), and the experience was wonderful.


What was it like when you assisted with your first patient, or do you have a story of a memorable patient?
Yes, I remember in my first day of internship, it was a strange feeling to get into people’s mouth (so close) to assist the doctor in performing crown preparation.


Which area of dental assisting do you prefer (chairside, admin, etc) and why?
Chairside, I really enjoy helping people and see their discomforts solved.


What advice do you have to share with others looking to become a dental assistant?
You have to see the job with passion instead of just a paycheck.


Where do you think Dental Assisting as a career is heading in the next 10-20 years?
I would like to see more growth in preventive measures and education for patients, especially in parent’s involvement with their children to enforce good oral hygiene habits (children constantly NEED help from their parents). 


If you could change anything about the dental assisting profession, what would it be and what are your future goals
I would like to see the profession licensed; my goal is to be the best dental assistant that I can be.


Carmen Fuller has been an active ADAA Student member since 2009. 


To congratulate Carmen on her Student Achievement award:  carmenfuller@gmail.com


Carmen - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Gary Jacobs, CDA, RDH, BS. Ed., MPA




One of the most anxious times in one's life is when deciding what to choose for a career path as a senior in high school.  I was fortunate to meet the Director of the Allied Dental Programs at Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Connecticut, Mrs. Brigette Spangberg.  Mrs. Spangberg was the most amazing person with the greatest impact on my life.  Although she passed away many years ago, I still think of her as my mentor and am grateful that fate brought us together.  I also taught under her from 1983 to 1985.


I graduated with my Associates Degree in Health Science in 1980, and then attended Central Connecticut State University to achieve a B.S. in Dental Education.  In the fall of 1989 I initiated my graduate studies at the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business, where my studies culminated with a Master of Public Administration Degree. 


In 1994 I was offered a position at Edison Community College in Fort Myers, Florida.  There I assisted in the development of the College’s Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting programs.  My responsibilities included didactic and laboratory instruction in various subjects for both the Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting Programs.  I also held the position of Instructional Administrator for both Allied Dental Programs.


One of the most enjoyable experiences during my career was involvement in the Florida Allied Dental Educators Association.  My colleagues impressed me with the collaboration between the numerous allied dental programs throughout the state.  They freely shared ideas in teaching and learning to benefit students and delivery of dental services.  The annual meeting on Captiva Island was very memorable.  I hope to see some of many ADAA members this year at the Annual Session in Orlando.


What is the best part of being an ADAA member?
My involvement in ADAA started with the Connecticut Dental Assistants Association Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary initiative to address the unparallel delivery of oral health care facing Connecticut and our nation.   ADAA is our professional association that shares our values and goals.  The reality of politics presents the fact that we need a strong voice as a team through ADAA if we are to achieve our unified goals to foster access to oral health care.  I encourage anyone who has a passion for addressing the access to oral health care issue to become a member of ADAA.
I currently serve as CDAA Vice President and hold a seat on the ADAA Council on Legislation.  I have also held the positions of CDAA Immediate Past President, President, President Elect, and Vice President, and actively participated on the following Committees: EFDA Curriculum; CDAA Legislative Task Force; and Ad hoc Access to Care with the Department of Public Health.  My focus has been on statewide legislative and educational initiatives to improve access to care for the residents of Connecticut, along with my fellow CDAA Officers.


What is the best memory I have as an ADAA member?
I have been honored to represent Connecticut for three of the last four years as the state Delegate at the annual ADAA meetings.  The dental community in Connecticut is like an extended family and we consistently join efforts to address access to care concerns.  The annual ADAA sessions provide an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and reaffirms we share the same concerns and passion for dentistry.  This is why every dental assistant should volunteer to be a delegate at least once during their career.


What would I like to see happen for Dental Assisting?
The issue of access to oral health care and legislation to utilize Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary as part of the solution has been negotiated at the state level.  Each state with EFDA has gone through the legislative process with stakeholder involvement to pass legislation that best fits their needs.  However, the map currently looks like a puzzle with varying tasks allowed as an expanded function from one state to the next.  The upside to this is that we may be able to collectively reflect on each state’s EFDA initiative and learn what works best to form a national model in the future.  This would provide for needed job transportability in today's mobile society.  As part of the national model, I would like to see CDA status as mandatory.


Is this a realistic goal?  It may not be, but I believe that it is an ideal and goal that we should strive toward.  If there is any hope of achieving such a goal we need to approach it at a national level through our association.  We can make a difference with membership and involvement in the ADAA.


In the summer of 2000 I relocated back to Connecticut to accept a faculty position at Tunxis Community College and currently teach full time in the Dental Assisting Program as an Associate Professor.  This completed the circle and brought me back to where my career began.  Teaching allows me to share my practical clinical experiences and has been the most rewarding part of my career.  I currently teach Dental Assisting Concepts; Oral Anatomy & Essentials of Radiography; Dental Radiography; Dental Assisting Advanced Clinical Techniques; Oral Medicine and Oral Health Education.  I also provide review sessions for infection control, radiation health and safety, and general chairside assisting.

The future for dental assisting is very optimistic with ever increasing opportunities.


Gary - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Jacqueline Halverson




Since junior high I knew that I wanted to be part of the dental profession. After school I would shadow the assistants in my area so that I could become familiar with the happenings in a dental office. After high school, I heavily researched the various dental assisting programs in my state. I decided that Pikes Peak Community College had the most in-depth program and that they offered the most respected educational dental assisting degree in Colorado.
I have maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout my dental assisting education and was the Class Representative for the dental assisting class of 2010 at my college. I am pursuing my CDA which I will complete this summer. I am also continuing my education to become an EDDA (Expanded Duty Dental Assistant) by pursuing my Associate's Degree in Dental Assisting.


The attention to detail during my education has been most helpful to me. Students are encouraged by the instructors to go over and beyond what is expected by the dental –field’s expectations. Being able to easily do an exceptional job in whatever I assist in has helped me exponentially. I recognize that my education is not a pass/fail game in life. Rather, it is a step towards achieving my goals and is worth all my efforts.


Every semester, my instructor offers to collect and send in ADAA Student Membership applications and fees for the students. I took advantage of her offer my first semester of in the spring of 2009 and soon after I received my ADAA membership packet. Being a part of an official, professional organization has always been high on my list of priorities for my career. I feel a sense of belonging and connection with dental assistants across the country regardless of any other personal attributes.


Soon after I become an ADAA member, I heard about the Juliette A. Southard/ Oral-B Laboratories Scholarship award and applied for the award. I was ecstatic when I found out that I was chosen as a recipient! It was very beneficial to me as it helped me to be able to continue my education to a greater extent than I had previous thought possible.


I love my career so much that it does not even feel like a "job." My education has provided me with the confidence to step into an office and "take the bull by the horns." I look forward to going to the office each day to assist the dentist in helping people with their oral healthcare. Being able to utilize the skills that I have learned in my classes has been a great joy. I feel a great sense of accomplishment when a patient leaves the office happy and please with the service that I helped provide. I am so excited to be part of such an amazing profession.


In the near future, I believe dental assisting will become more highly prized by the dental community as the "baby boomers" become more aware of their oral health. Also, more procedures will be delegated to the assistant thereby increasing the demand for highly trained and qualified dental assistants. Therefore, dental assisting, as a profession, will  continue to be a highly respected career choice.


The best advice I can give is never give up. There will always be difficulties and trials, but the end results will be well worth it. Do not be afraid to ask questions and ask for clarification. Most dentists will appreciate your questions because they see it as a chance for you to better your skills and thus become a more effective assistant.


Jacqueline - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

MSG Katherine Carrasco, MS, RDH, CDPMA, FADAA

K Carrasco


Information & Advice

How did you decide to become a dental assistant?

I became interested in dental assisting when I worked as a Red Cross Volunteer at a Navy Dental Clinic in Quantico, VA way back in 1985.  The Navy dental assistant taught me how to “four hand” dental assist and I would volunteer at least 30 hours a week.  In 1988 I graduated from Coastal Carolina Community College with an AAS in Dental Hygiene.  Almost two years later, I enlisted in the US Army as a dental assistant. 


What type of education did you take to become a dental assistant?


Prior to learning dental assisting, I had one year of college.  Since then, I have completed an AAS in Dental Hygiene, a BS in Management and a MSHS in Public Health.  I have also earned Fellowship in the ADAA and a DANB Certified Dental Practice Administrator.


Do you continue your education currently, and if so what type?

I am currently taking CE courses towards a Mastership in the ADAA.


How many dentists have your worked for?  Who was your favorite and why?

I worked for four dentists in private practice and countless military dentists.  My favorite dentist was the first dentist that I worked for.  He was a new graduate from dental school and really appreciated having a full-time assistant.  He had a great sense of humor and a caring manner with his patients.


What was it like when you assisted with your first patient, or do you have a story of a memorable patient? 


I knew right away that I was on to something.  I loved knowing that as a team, the dentist and I were helping the patient and that our efforts would bring immediate results.   My most memorable patient was a tobacco farmer in Maysville, NC.  We performed a full-mouth rehab and the full treatment plan took several visits over the course of a year to complete.  He was apprehensive at first, but came to trust us and really opened up.  He was such a nice guy; he used to bring us fresh-baked goodies from his wife.


Tell us about your dental assisting career.  Which area do you work in (chairside, admin, etc) and why?


I don’t assist much anymore, but from time to time I get to and the feeling is both familiar and nostalgic.  I currently work at the Army Dental Lab as the Senior Dental NCO.  I oversee the day to day activities of over 90 dental laboratory technicians.


What is the best part of your job?   


The soldiers – they keep me young.


Where do you think Dental Assisting as a career is heading in the next 10-20 years?  


I think that assistants will become more active in expanded functions, nationwide.  They are a valuable member of the dental treatment team, capable of providing direct care as prescribed by the dentist.


What do you think is your greatest accomplishment as a dental assistant?


I think my greatest accomplishment as a dental assistant is that I served in the US Army with some of the best dental professionals I know.


What advice do you have to share with potential/future dental assistants?


Stay abreast of technology, materials and techniques.  Continue your education and become the best in your field.


What are your goals for the future?


To be a dental educator.

ADAA Related Questions

How did you find out about ADAA?  When did you join?

I found out about the ADAA when SGM Spadaro introduced me to Cindy Bradley in 2001, during her first visit to the Army Medical Department Center and School.  She was president of the ADAA at that time and I had no idea that I would come to know her and so many other members so well.  I joined in 2002, when the Federal District was established.


What types of offices have you held, if any, with the ADAA?  When?

I am currently on the Council on Awards and Scholarships and have been a delegate for the Federal District for the past four years.


For you, what is the best part of being an ADAA member?

I like the networking with other members, the CE opportunities and the camaraderie shared at the annual meetings.


What is the best memory you have as an ADAA member?

The 50’s themed fund-raiser in DC several years ago.

To contact Katherine, email:


Katherine - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!




I started my career in dentistry late in life, so I could raise my children.  Due to my marital status, I needed to find some way to support myself.  I thought I would like to become a dental assistant, so attended the O.T. Autry Technology Center in Enid, Oklahoma.   When I worked on my first patient, I was a bit uneasy.  I ended up accidentally spraying the patient with the air/water syringe.


I have worked with three dentists and several residents, but I now retired.  I became a member of the ADAA in 1983 when I attended a meeting held by my local society.  I have held office in my state association, and have even been state president.  I have also served on numerous committees.  The best part of being an ADAA member has been the opportunity to meet other dental assistants from around the country.  The ADAA helped me create lasting friendships and allowed me to be part of an organization that does great things for dentistry.


I earned my CDA about 1986 and in 1997 my doctor required me to take the AAOMS exam.  I continue to learn through education from our local society, and attending the Oklahoma State Dental meeting.  My greatest accomplishment was having the respect from my doctors that I am an educated and dependable dental assistant.  I would like to see the CDA become a requirement for all dental assistants in Oklahoma and hope that there will be a new, energized generation of assistants to lead the way.


I was a chairside assistant when absolutely fell in love with Oral Surgery, so I took the Oral Surgery certification exam and was able to pass it.  I enjoyed assisting faculty and going to the operating room with the oral surgery residents.  It was very rewarding to see a change in the patient’s looks and attitude when we had treated them.  If my circumstances were different, I would have liked to have been an Oral Surgeon, so I recommend to all dental assistants if you have a dream, go for it, and never give up.



To contact Grace, email: opnyd04@gmail.com


Grace - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Lori Barnhart, CDA, RDA, FADAA

Lori Barnhart



Information & Advice

How did you decide to become a dental assistant?

I fell into dental assisting quite by accident. I had already completed three years at the University of Michigan and switched majors three times. I couldn’t seem to find something that really interested me enough to want to spend my life working at it. I wandered over to the community college to check into their nursing program, only to find a two year waiting list, when all of a sudden I saw a sign in the hallway that said “Dental Assisting Program, No waiting list, One year program.” That was all it took. I figured I could finish the program in one year, start working, bank some money and go back to school once I figured out what I really wanted to be.  I fell in love with dentistry and have never looked back.


What type of education did you take to become a dental assistant?

I attended Mott College’s Dental Assisting Program which is ADA accredited. Michigan has licensure, so I am a RDA as well as a CDA.  Several years ago the law changed allowing current RDA’s to go back to obtain education to perform several expanded functions, which I did as well.


Do you continue your education currently, and if so what type?

I have thought many times that I would like to go back to school to become a teacher, but never have. I believe in continuing education and its role in keeping assistants up to date and knowledgeable. I am an ADAA Fellow, which was such an achievement and I can’t even explain how wonderful it was to go thru convocation and be recognized for taking so much continuing education. I am currently working on my Mastership.


How many dentists have your worked for?

Although I have subbed a few times over the last 20+ years, I have only “worked” for one dentist who is has been my personal dentist since high school. He was a friend of the family and I was his babysitter while in high school. Once I entered the dental assisting program he told me just to plan on coming to work for him, so I never had to apply for a position and have been with him for over twenty years. I have also worked for Meer Dental and Henry Schein as a customer service representative. Working as a dental assistant was excellent preparation for working for a dental supply company.


What was it like when you worked on your first patient, or do you have a story of a memorable patient or procedure you preformed?

The most memorable story I can remember did revolve around me being a new team member at Dr. Schneck’s. A patient came in with an anterior crown off. Doctor looked at it and asked me to clean the remaining cement out of it so that he could re-cement it on. I was squeezing that crown, trying not to drop it, while scraping cement out. All of a sudden, all the porcelain just crumbled off the outside. I am sure my face said it all. I was mortified and thinking that the patient is going to run me through the ringer after I get fired. Thankfully the patient was a friend of my moms and was very understanding. Of course the porcelain must have already been cracked. I didn’t know it then, but my squeezing it couldn’t possibly have cracked the porcelain.


Tell us about your dental assisting career.  Which section do you work in (chairside, admin, etc) and why?

I currently work as a chair side assistant. I did have to fill in as a business assistant for while, but it became apparent to me that root canals, oral surgery and restorations interested me far more than scheduling appointments, sending out recall notices and balancing the books.


What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is hearing a patient say “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.” I feel even better when it is one of those patients who have a death grip on the chair, or a patient who tells me they are going to gag on an impression, and they don’t. Any day you can exceed your patient’s expectations is a good day.


What do you think is your greatest accomplishment as a dental assistant?

I think my greatest accomplishment as a dental assistant has been to serve my profession in the legislative arena. I truly enjoy working on promoting the profession and enhancing the duties of Michigan Dental Assistants.  I was lucky to have been mentored by a phenomenal member, who instilled that drive in me to want more for myself and our profession. In fact, I think that my second greatest accomplishment is mentoring dental assisting friends and watching them take on a leadership roles in our association.


Would you change anything about your career? If so, what?

If I could change anything about my career, it would only be to go back in time and to enter dental assisting right out of high school. I often feel like I wasted a lot of money and time trying to discover myself. I wish I had fell in to dental assisting so much sooner.


What advice do you have to share with potential/future dental assistants?

I could probably think of a million things to share with dental assistants, but there are a few things I do every day that just seems to make everything go well. First say good morning to every team member in your practice, every day. Second, buy your boss lunch every once in awhile.  Third, stay clear of gossiping about other members in the practice. And finally, a smile goes along way, but it never hurts to have a stash of M-N-M’s and Advil somewhere. They make everything better!


What would you like to accomplish in the future?

In the future my number one accomplishment would be to get the CDA and the non-licensed dental assistant recognized in the Michigan Public Health Code.

ADAA Related Questions

How did you find out about ADAA?  When did you join?

I joined the ADAA as a student in college in 1987. It was required and our program coordinator was a member and very active in pushing legislation for Michigan assistants. I often think about where I would be if it was not for her adamant requirement that we join as student members. After graduation I renewed my dues and became an active member. I immediately served on my local’s board as secretary. I have never looked back.


What types of offices have you held, if any, with the ADAA?  When?

I have served in every local position and in every state position in Michigan, some more than once. I have also had the privilege of serving as ADAA 6th District Trustee for several years and ADAA Secretary twice. I currently volunteer on the Council on Annual Conference where I have the opportunity to lead the New Delegate Orientation at the national convention. This is my time to fire up all those new delegates and impress upon them what their job is when they attend a convention to represent their state or branch of the military.


What is the best part, to you, of being an ADAA member?

Although ADAA has great benefits and an amazing dental assisting magazine, I have to say that the best part of being a member has been the national and international contacts and friends that I have made. By actively participating in my local, state and with ADAA, I have been allowed to travel all over while representing dental assistants. I think I can honestly say I know someone in every state, Canada and my involvement many years ago with ADAA’s international committee even led me to contacts in Britain and Africa. It is amazing what is different state to state, and between countries. It makes things so much more interesting and really opens your eyes. There is so much more out there for me besides my operatory in Michigan.


What is the best memory you have as an ADAA member?

I have two memories that will stay with me the rest of my life that are related to ADAA. The most recent in 2009 was receiving my Fellowship in Honolulu, which was amazing. The other is from several years ago at a time when ADAA was struggling with membership recruitment and retention, and member morale. I had an opportunity to lead a membership forum at this very difficult time in our association’s history and I remember asking members to close their eyes and I asked them some very difficult questions about what they felt about our association. It was a stressful and tearful meeting, but, in the back of the room were some individuals in military attire and little did I know that they popped in to our meeting to just check ADAA out. I was thinking, boy, this was the wrong meeting to come to just to check us out.  We looked pretty sad. A year later, ADAA signed a contract with the Army to provide continuing education to all Army dental assistants worldwide. That meeting was my first contact with Retired SGM Steve Spadaro, past ADAA President. He saw something in ADAA that many of our own members could no longer see. He and the Army took a leap of faith and contracted with our Association and it has just grown by leaps and bounds since that time. I will never forget standing in front of that membership forum wondering “Why are those Army people here?”  It brings a smile to my face every time.


Dental Assisting in the Future

Where do you think Dental Assisting is heading in the next 10-20 years?

I anticipate that dental assisting in the future will become more standardized state to state. That we will become more educated and valued for our role in patient care. I can see us playing a larger part in access to care initiatives.


Are there any common myths about the dental assisting profession?

The myth out there that just drives me nuts is that the dental assistants is the low man on the totem pole in the dental office. In reality the dental assistants is a little higher off the ground then they think. I truly feel that we need to toot our own horn just a little louder and not be accepting of this misconception. I get all riled up when I hear dental assistants refer to themselves as “just a dental assistant”. Yes, we are dental assistants, but we are also compassionate, intelligent health care workers too, and the dental office can’t survive without us.



To contact Lori: SLSBARN@power-net.net
Lori is currently employed at:

Dr. Douglas L. Schneck

G-5051 W. Bristol Road

Flint, MI 48507


Lori - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!


Emily Pascavage



I always had an interest in the dental field, and after five years of teaching I decided to pursue a new career path as a dental assistant. I researched a few schools and YTI Career Institute best fit my needs and expectations. Not only is the curriculum taught by knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the dental field, but the personalized instruction and small class sizes was appealing to me.


The most useful part of my education was gaining hands-on experience through working as a dental assistant at two externship sites, because there is nothing more effective in the learning process than actively doing. I also represented YTI Career Institute as a Student Ambassador, which allowed me to positively represent my school and future career.


My first day as a practicing dental assistant I was initially nervous when I began assisting with patients, but I kept reminding myself that I hold the skills and confidence I need to do my best. Honestly, the first week was difficult, but I learned a lot and became more comfortable with my routine.


I am currently working as a pediatric dental assistant. I prefer working chairside because I feel that this role in the dental office allows me to interact more with patients. It is also a role that offers various functions, such as chairside assisting, taking and processing x-rays, breaking down and setting up operatories, maintaining sterilization, as well as helping the hygienists when I can.


To keep up with my education, I attend several continuing education seminars and local PDAA meetings. I also receive the Dental Assistant journal and keep myself updated with current topics relevant to my profession.  I would love to become a certified EFDA and am interested in teaching adults in a dental assisting program in the future.


I joined the ADAA after learning more about the benefits of this organization while in school. I then applied for the ADAA’s Juliet Southard/Oral-B Laboratories scholarship, which I won. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to showcase my passion for this career. My scholarship essay was written from the heart and I truly feel that I am deserving of this award. I have always had a passion for helping others, like Southard herself, and feel honored to represent the scholarship program.


Another great part about being an ADAA member is that it grants students access to being members of their state dental assistants association, which helps them become more aware of local dental assisting chapters, meetings and continuing education made available to them.


Future dental assistants should understand and prepare for the reality that dental assisting is a career, not just a job. Assistants hold a huge amount of responsibility in the dental field, and professionalism plays a major role. Also, obtaining a dental assisting certification requires hard work and dedication. My advice to students would be take your career seriously, stay committed to the workload throughout your schooling and always remain confident as you prepare for your future.


A Little More about Emily:


Email - epascavage@gmail.com

Employer - Chester County Dentistry for Children, P.C.


Emily - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!


S. Prestridge



I would have become a Dental Assistant sooner!

I’d like to start off by saying that the only thing I’d change about my Dental Assisting career is that I if I knew what I know now, I would have made  the decision to become an assistant much sooner!  My grandfather was a General Dentist and my uncle is a Periodontist, so dentistry is something I quickly became comfortable around and educated with at an early age.  The smells and sounds of a dental office have always been familiar to me.  While in college, I had no intentions of remaining a dental assistant, but I started assisting for my uncle for a couple of years and loved it!
I ended up having to quit because I relocated, but I quickly realized that I missed it very much.  I knew that the void I felt could not be filled until I got back into the dental office.  It wasn’t long after that I decided to enroll in the Dental Assisting Program at Athens Technical College.  There I gained my certification as a Certified Dental Assistant with Expanded Functions, which was also my greatest accomplishment because I passed all my DANB boards the first time!


I have worked with six dentists, including those I had to do my practicum with at Athens Tech.  My uncle has to be my favorite dentist to work with so far!  We get along great and laugh all day long when we work together.  It’s wonderful to know that when you get to work you’re going to have an enjoyable day!


Currently, I am working in a prison dental clinic as a chairside assistant.  It’s definitely not the typical dental assisting job or environment, but it’s a new experience that very few people will ever be able to have.  It’s definitely not somewhere I would have ever pictured myself working, but when it comes down to it, dentistry is what I love and dentistry is dentistry no matter where you are or who you are treating.  All that matters, which is also the best part of our job, is knowing that each person we see is going to feel better and be better off after we treat them.


Speaking of treating patients, I remember a young boy who was having a cuspid exposure done, and I must say I love this procedure!  It had been raining and thundering all day long.  We were getting to the most critical step in the procedure and the power goes out.  I couldn’t believe the timing!  I had to hold the bracket steadily on his tooth until the lights came back on.  I remember praying that I didn’t slip and move the bracket before it was set.  The lights finally came back on and everything worked out perfectly.  I could not believe how that little boy remained so calm during everything.  He was very brave and did wonderfully through the surgery.  I was very proud of him and of us!



Recognition and appreciation for dental assistants.
I joined the ADAA when I was in Dental Assisting School.  It was at Hinman the first year after I graduated.  I really enjoy being an ADAA member because of the recognition and appreciation it brings for my hard work as a dental assistant.  I have not held any offices yet, but I have a feeling that will probably change after Hinman this year.


Since joining the ADAA I started a Facebook group for Assistants in Georgia.  The group has really taken off and we have about 300 members and are growing every day!  My goal has been to try to get Georgia assistants more active in the State Chapter of the ADAA.  It’s a good feeling when I log on to my page and have yet another request to be in the group because a fellow assistant suggested it to them.


On the page I list all continuing education I know of in the state of Georgia, any volunteer opportunities they may be interested in attending and also any websites I think could be beneficial to an assistant.  We also post pictures, job openings and have discussions about anything from OSHA and sterilization to what kinds of shoes we are wearing to work every day.  It’s a lot of fun to be able to network with other assistants and make new friends, and also learn from each other as well.  Since starting the group I have met and spoken with a lot of wonderful people and would encourage assistants in other states to start their own Facebook pages.



Learn as much as you can!
I stress to everyone I talk to that education and CE are a must for all dental assistants, certified or not.  Learn as much as you can!  It is your responsibility as a dental assistant to learn any and everything you can to be a more successful and productive assistant in your offices.  Many patients’ dental experiences are greatly influenced by the assistant.  It is up to us to make sure their visit is as enjoyable and relaxing as possible.  Aside from that, infection control should be your number one priority no matter what office you are working in.


I attend the Hinman Dental meeting every year in Atlanta, Georgia, and also attend any continuing education courses I hear about in the area.  I am currently working on my fellowship with the ADAA and I plan on receiving my mastership as well.  I also plan on receiving a bachelor’s degree in Public Health.


I love going to Hinman because it gives me a chance to learn new things, and meet and network with other assistants and dental staff.  This year at Hinman we are planning on getting the Georgia dental assistants together for a meet and greet, and hopefully induct new officers for the Georgia State Chapter of the ADAA.  I'm really excited to meet everyone and I'm hoping for a big turnout!  I also always make it a priority to visit the DANB and ADAA booths while I'm there.  (ADAA Booth #815)


I can’t say for certain what the future holds for the Dental Assisting profession, but I know where I hope it will go!  I hope that dental assistants will gain even more education and higher salaries, and will be valued even more in the dental office for being the “right hand” men and women that we all know we are.   I also hope that every state will eventually require that assistants become registered or certified before becoming an assistant.  I think if more is expected of us then we will expect more of ourselves.

A Little More about Susannah:


For more information about Dental Assisting in GA -
Susannah Prestridge –Sp0712@gmail.com


Employer Information
Georgia Department of Corrections
Men’s State Prison
Milledgeville, GA


Susannah - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Cynthia K. Bradley, CDA, EFDA, CDPMA, MADAA

Cynthia K. Bradley

"The best advice I can give to those inquiring
about dental assisting is to love what you do."
-Cynthia K. Bradley


Dental assisting is a career, not just a job

In 1976, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life until a friend told me about a dentist who was hiring and was willing to train someone to be his assistant.  I took the job and the rest is history.  I initially started as an on-the-job trained assistant, which lasted six months.  Working on my first patient was so long ago that I do not remember anything specific, but I do remember feeling nervous and excited all at once.


It was not until I moved to Florida that I realized I needed to understand more about the materials I was using and why they are used, so I attended a non-traditional evening program at Orlando Tech for six months, which ran five nights a week.   I’ve also attended the University of Florida for my State Expanded Functions Certificate and have taken the Dental Assisting National Board’s (DANB) Exam to become a Certified Dental Assistant.  In 1992, I received my Certified Dental Practice Management Assistant certification from DANB.


More recently, in 2007 I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.  I also maintain my CDA and CDPMA by obtaining the required continuing education credits from the dental community, which includes ADAA courses, attending local and state dental conferences and online courses.


I have worked in many aspects of the dental office.  I have been a chairside assistant, worked in administration at the front desk, as well as preformed in management roles.  In my career I have worked for five wonderful dentists: three general dentists, a prosthodontist and an endodontist.  Currently I am the Dental Assisting Program Director at Orlando Tech.  There I get to enjoy helping students transform into dental assistants.  Sharing my love and passion for dentistry with them is the best part of my job.  I have had so many memorable experiences.  My career has been amazing and continues to be even 34 years later


I am grateful to have the opportunity to teach the career that I love and have such a passion for.   I’ve gotten to help hundreds of students find a career that they love and educate the community about proper dental health.  Being able to donate time and resources to those in need reminds me every day that I am truly blessed to be able to give back.  I have been so fortunate with the personal milestones that I have achieved.  I am just happy to continue being a mentor to others and encouraging them to always do their best and work hard, because becoming a dental assistant has been the best decision I ever made.


For the years to come, I think legislation and technology will be the driving force in the field.  Many times I have heard that all dental assistants are licensed from people unfamiliar with our field, which is untrue.  There is no standard license.  Our patients need to be educated about what we do while we continue to push for the necessary legislation to make a standard license a reality.  I would love to see this happen in my lifetime.


The best advice I can give to those inquiring about dental assisting is to love what you do.  Dental assisting is a career, not just a job.  When you are passionate about your profession, the patients will feed off of your enthusiasm and feel comfortable in the chair.  Since dentistry is always changing it is important to stay involved in your local dental assisting association, keep up with your continuing education credits, and never be afraid to learn and try something new.  


ADAA – Building friendships and memories


I heard about ADAA when I was attending school at Orlando Tech.  I joined the association 31 years ago in 1979.  I have served on all levels of the Orlando District Dental Assistants Society and the Florida Dental Assistants Association; and on numerous ADAA committees.  In 1992 I became the ADAA Fifth District Trustee serving Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Puerto Rico until 1999 and then began my terms as an ADAA officer.  I was ADAA President in 2001-2002.  After my term on the Board I served as the ADAA Military Liaison until October, 2009. 


The best part of being an ADAA member is the lifelong friendships that I have developed. Words can’t express how much it means to be a part of such an amazing group of dental assistants that share such a strong bond of friendship.  I brag all the time that I could travel to all 50 of the states in America; and probably even a few foreign countries such as Canada, Germany, Italy and China; and personally know someone because of my affiliation with the ADAA. 


I have so many great memories from being a part of the ADAA.  Though serving as President was amazing, I would have to say my favorite times were working with our Army and Air Force.  As ADAA president and liaison I was allowed to participate in so many ADAA sponsored functions, such as representing ADAA and leading a delegation of dental assistants to the Republic of China with the People to People organization.  I led the ADAA in humbling visits to the wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Brooks Army Medical Center and the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.  ADAA sponsored and participated in placing wreaths at Arlington Cemetery, sent holiday greetings to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I was able to be a part of that.


We are truly more than “just dental assistants.”  We are amazing dental assistants and grateful Americans.  I know I speak for all of us in the association when I say, “What memories we all have because we belong to the ADAA!”



Employer information
Orlando Tech
301 West Amelia Street
Orlando, FL 32801


CYNTHIA- from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!




In this week’s newsletter, we are featuring Patty Harrington of IL, a longtime ADAA member, dental assistant and dedicated employee.  Patty is a member of the Chicago Dental Assistants Society chapter.


How did you decide to become a dental assistant?

I became a dental assistant over 50 years ago.  I was interested in being involved in a health profession and I had just moved to Chicago by myself.  Being on my own, there were not many opportunities readily available to get Continuing Education for a degree, but I found out about dental assisting.  That was my initial step, and I fell in love with the profession.


How can a person interested in Dental Assisting find out if it is the right profession for them?

Years ago, schools would hold career days, and that was an opportunity for students to have many of their questions answered.

Today, on-the-job training is more prevalent.  I remember getting calls from assistants who would ask when it was ok for them to this or that in the office, such as cleaning teeth. 

I encourage those interested in the field to seek out their local professional association to find out if it is right for them.


Would you change anything about your dental assisting career if you could? If so, what?

I would not change a thing.  I was aggressive in my profession and I loved it enough that I became totally involved in dental assisting.  My work ethic was at a point that I’d be on the job 24/7 if I needed to be.

Though, I would like to see more respect in our profession from the dentist side.  Staff members are not promoted today like they used to be.  Back when I started, the pay scale for dental assisting was no real benefit, but if you love something you do it and you work around any problems you have.  If I could, I would change the pay scale so it was on level with other professional, and make is so that doctors respect assistants more as part of a team and recognize our importance.


What can you share with potential/future dental assistants?

The best advice I can give is try to learn as much as you can.  Be willing to work in different areas of the office, not just chairside or administration.  Take a total interest in the profession, and be sure to express it so your employer knows.  It shows a willingness to learn and it’s the only way to be happy.

If someone else is more aggressive in the office they will take hold while you sit back, and you may resent it.  Just be confident and willing to learn.


What is the best part of your job?

Knowing that I was really important to the patients was the best part.  I was there for them to be able to help them and could comfort them.  It was very rewarding when they came back or I could see them smile and say, “I’m not afraid.”

One of the most interesting set of patients I had was the Cardinals football team.  They were four times my size and they’d come in so scarred.  I remember one man held my hand so hard, and I haven’t had feeling in it since he let go, but I was able to talk to him and comfort him.  I was able to help them realize that all was going to be well after they were treated.


How many dentists have you worked with?

Dr. Joseph Smith was the first and only doctor I worked for, and I was with his practice for 17 years.

I did work part time for another doctor during the time I was employed at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry.  He was a friend who needed someone to fill in a position, so I helped him out and ended up working with him, part-time, for 8 years.


Finish this sentence:  If I knew all the things I knew now years ago, I would change….

I would have gone on and furthered my education, toward hygiene or even possibly dentistry.  Being that I was by myself, I didn’t have the luxury of someone else supporting me.

When I was teaching, I worked one-on-one with senior students, and I made sure to stress education and respect for themselves and the profession.


Tell us about your dental assisting career.

I had the good fortune to participate in a cultural exchange program in China in the early 1980s.  I was the only dental assistant and the trip was phenomenal.  The highlight was being able to work with them in dental care.  One of my prized possessions, actually, is the ADAA Journal Award I received for the article I submitted about my trip.

I am currently retired from the profession, but am still active with the ADAA. Being an officer for the ADAA has been great as well, but I may be retiring from my office as Chicago Dental Assistant Society President soon, too.  I’m not online, which is the direction everything, including the association, is going.

All I can say is that I loved every minute of my professional career.  I hope to more people get involved in dental assisting and learn to love and respect it, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my career.


What was it like when you worked on your first patient?

I remember walking into the office in the morning, wearing my white uniform, but I didn’t yet have my cap.  I was an hour early so the doctor could introduce me to the office.

The first patient I worked on was Ms. Fischer.  I remember everything seemed so good when I put the bib on her.  One of things I remember was that the doctor was rolling acrylic in his hand for the procedure and he handed it to me and I thought I had to keep it so I put it in my pocket.  It was pretty funny, and I actually kept that piece for years.


What are some dental industry improvements you have witnessed?

Back when I started with the Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, the materials, and dentistry itself, were so archaic.  It’s been astounding to watch the integration of new materials and equipment.

There are now so many advanced treatments that didn’t exist before.  Implants were limited years ago, and I got to see the evolution of impression materials.  It’s just amazing how far it has progress.


Are there any common myths about the dental assisting profession?

I have to honestly say no.  I have not encountered any sort of myths, even with the assistants at college when I taught.


What would you like to accomplish in the future?

I’d like to see our association grow.  The 2010 Chicago Midwinter meeting will be my 51st, and I want to see the association, and dental assisting, return to the levels they used to be at.  I do not believe that will happen until we return to the basics of caring and watching out for each other, or until work ethics return to what they were.  I am very proud and happy with what I’ve done, and I will continue to contribute whatever I can to help.


How did you find out about ADAA?

I learned about the ADAA through correspondence Dr. Smith received at the office.  The Midwinter program had just come out and I attended my first conference in February of 1959 at the Blackstone Hotel.

Later, I attended the Englewood branch dental meeting with Dr. Smith, where I inquired about the association.  I joined in 1961.  In 1966 or ’67 I received my certification.

I was trying to better myself and learn; to grasp the science aspect of dental assisting and to know as much as I could.  I attended branch meetings on Chicago’s south side, which was one of the 6 branches outside of the Chicago main branch.  I went on to serve in many offices of the State and Local branches, and was a Trustee in 1983.


How long have you been an ADAA member?

I have been a member 49 years.


What is the best memory you have as a member?

The comradery and togetherness.  It was amazing that we could site at a table and discuss issues, disagree, then walk away as friends.

The friendships we shared were very memorable.  We’d bunk three to five in a room for meetings, take the mattress of the bed onto the floor, get extra sheets and sleep on the floor like that.

The 1979 meeting in Dallas was one I’ll never forget.  The House of Delegates meeting lasted from early morning until midnight.  We used to have 1,500 delegates then.  The Association President was Lois Mazzucchi and I was Illinois State President at the time.  It is my biggest memory of a session, and everything was coming up roses.

I am still learning, though, and that is the joy of all of it.


Patty - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Shanita Sylvain

Shanita Sylvain

"I gained a true understanding and
appreciation for the importance of
dental hygiene."-Shanita Sylvain


The ADAA met up with dental assisting student Shanita Sylvain, who is currently enrolled in Orlando Tech’s (FL) Dental Assisting Program.


Upon meeting Shanita, we knew she was someone you should know.  Thank you Shanita, for taking the time to share why you chose Orlando Tech and dental assisting as a career.


How did you choose your Dental Assisting School?


I chose Orlando Tech School by doing lots of research and fine print reading.  I signed up for my classes a year in advance with the motivation from the helpful resources and conversations with a previous dental assistant graduate of Orlando Tech.


What do you like most about your Dental Assisting education so far?


So far I have enjoyed the knowledge of oral health. Prevention-prevention is the key to a lot of illness or diseases.  On the first day of school my instructor told our class, “Diseases of the mouth are an early indictor for the rest of the body”.  Since that day I’ve been all eyes and ears.


Describe the hands on phases of your Dental Assisting education?


During hands-on labs, I’ve enjoyed placing  dental dams, taking alginate impressions, and bite registrations, and different materials used when taking a final impression. Knowledge of how, why, and when certain procedures are required in order to get a final product that ultimately makes the patient comfortable or happy is very rewarding.


What factors should prospective students consider when choosing a school?


Future dental assisting students should consider the following questions and objectives:


a.   Is the school accredited?

b.   Are there any community services involved?

c.   Consider sitting down with one of the instructors of the program, finding out the parameters of the course.


What steps are you taking as a student to launch your DA career?


On 10/27/2009, half of our classmates were invited to Zellwood Elementary school to treat the kids with fluoride applications due to the fact that they didn’t have any fluoride in their water. I was very happy and motivated to know that I helped educate someone who may not otherwise received that gift.


What made you decide on dental assisting as a career?


I’ve always had an itch for the healthcare field but I did not want to follow the footsteps of the RN’s of the family, so looked into dental hygienist role in dentistry which lead me to dental assisting. 


Would you recommend dental assisting as a career to others?


Yes, definitely.  It’s an exciting, revolving, and stable career with options to move around into the different fields of dentistry.


Where do you see yourself in 10 years?


A decade from now I can see myself as one of the three following goals;

Lead assistant w/ hospital privileges in oral surgery, Office manager,

Teaching upcoming dental assistants (BA in Psychology)          


Wow!  We admire your goals and your dedication to the dental assisting field, we wish you the best of luck achieving all your goals!  We also hope ADAA remains part of your future!  Good luck Shanita and thank you for your time!


A little about Orlando Tech:

  • Accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Accreditation.
  • Students are also awarded the Florida State Expanded Functions Certificate as required by the Florida State Board of Dentistry, CPR, First Aid, and HIV/AIDS certificates
  • Program Length:  10-month program (1230 clock hours mandated by the Department Of Education)
  • Orlando Tech has one of ADAA’s very own instructing!  2001-2002 Past President Cynthia K. Bradley 
  • For more information on Orlando Tech, contact Cindy Bradley by

E-mail:  cynthia.bradley@ocps.net  or

Phone:  407/246-7060 ext 4923


Shanita - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Connie Myers Kracher, PhD, MSD, CDA



Information & Advice

How did you decide to become a dental assistant? How have you expanded your education beyond dental assisting?


I started as an on-the-job trained dental assistant right after high school in South Bend, Indiana.  I was working part-time for my own dentist while attending college.  After my employer retired, I began working for a dentist as an expanded functions dental assistant (restorative) in Warsaw, Indiana.  I became a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) while I was an OJT.  The dentist I was working for at the time told me that I should go to dental school, but I had no desire to be a dentist.  She said “if you don’t want to be a dentist then go teach [allied].”  I thought this was a great idea because I loved to teach others, so I completed a Bachelor of Science in allied dental education at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).  After graduation, I began teaching in the dental assisting program at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).  A couple years after teaching at IPFW, my Dean encouraged me to apply to graduate dental school at Indiana University School of Dentistry at the IUPUI campus.  I was accepted to the Oral Biology Department majoring in Preventive Dentistry and minoring in Diagnostic Sciences.  I completed a Masters in Dentistry (MSD) four years later. I just recently completed my PhD in Global Leadership and Corporate Management in May, 2009.


How can dental assisting students become involved in their profession?


We invite our students to the Isaac Knapp Dental Assistants Society (IKDAS) monthly meetings.  They listen to speakers and a free dinner is provided for them.  A majority of the students come every month and many continue to come monthly to our meetings after graduation.  Joining the ADAA is a great way to network, talk with members about current trends and find job opportunities in the area.


What would you change anything about your dental assisting career if you could? If so, what?


I love being a part of the dental assisting profession.  I get to work with students and our local IKDAS members at all levels, whether it is locally, in our state or nationally.  Since 1989 I’ve been a member of the American Dental Assistants Association and met so many wonderful people.  I’m currently the chair of the department of dental education and the program director of dental assisting.  What’s great about dentistry is that you can be anything you want to be.  Whoever thought an OJT would some day have a PhD and a MSD?


What can you share with potential/future dental assistants?


Dental assistants need to take advantage of all the educational opportunities available.  IPFW has many different career paths.  We have an advanced orthodontic clinician program at our campus and a restorative dentistry program at our dental school in Indianapolis.  In Indiana, we’re fortunate that restorative dentistry is legal for dental assistants.  Taking Spanish language courses would also be beneficial.  In our area, we know that a CDA who is dual trained in clinical and business are extremely valuable to our dental offices.  Also, persons who are dual trained in restorative and ortho are very valuable to our pediatric dentists and general dentists.


How many dentists have you worked with?


I’ve worked with five dentists in three different Indiana cities while I was working on my bachelor degree.  I also subbed quite a bit when I was taking heavy credit hours as an undergrad.  The irony is dentists used to employ me when I was a Certified Dental Assistant and now I employ them to teach our 126 students at our university in the three allied dental programs (dental assisting, dental hygiene, and dental laboratory technology).

You & Your Career

Did you have a mentor, and if so who?


Dr. Lena Fermback was my mentor who told me to either go to dental school or teach allied.  Dr. Arden Christen was my professor and thesis chair in graduate dental school.  Both are still very much a part of my life.  Also, my two best friends and lifetime mentors are Willie Leeuw and Deb Stuart.  They have been with me for over 15 years teaching at IPFW.  I could not do it without them.  They are wonderful role models to our students.


 What was it like when you worked on your first patient?


My first patient was 26 years ago and I really don’t remember anything specific.  I will say everyone is apprehensive their first time and we all want to do a good job.  I remember doing restorative and really wanting to be perfect, but unfortunately function always wins over form when placing restorations.


What are some dental industry trends which could help potential dental assistants plan for the future?


I’ve been receiving calls lately from dental assistants who are missing out on sub positions because they don’t know a certain dental software.  I can only suggest learning any technology you can.  There’re so many new dental software programs that come out, and digital radiography is slowly taking over traditional film.  It always comes back to you résumé and being educated in many areas.


Are there any common myths about the dental assisting profession?


Some dental assistants come in believing dental assisting is a stepping stone to becoming a dental hygienist.  It seems to be a national trend, but not in Northeast Indiana.  A dental hygienist works toward prevention while a dental assistant specializes in multiple areas of dentistry.  They are two different professionals with two different job responsibilities.  We tell students who are interested in both programs to shadow someone in each profession and choose what is right for them.


What is the most gratifying accomplishment you have had as a certified dental assistant?


I’ve been fortunate to work with excellent clinicians and been encouraged to continue my education.  Also, I believe the greatest accomplishment for a dental assistant is when a dentist compliments them by saying “You think like me. You should go to dental school.”  That is the best compliment you could receive from your employer.


What would you like to accomplish in the future?


I just finished my PhD, so I can’t really think of what to do beyond that right now.  I do want to conduct more research in the future, work to be a better professor and continue to learn. 



How did you find out about ADAA?


I was in dental assistant working in a dental office and was encouraged to become a member by my employer.  I also found out later that my future dental assisting program director was an ADAA national president.   


How long have you been an ADAA member? 20 years


What is the best memory you have as a member?


Our state dental assisting meetings (IDAA) every year bring so many fond memories.  We really look forward to seeing everyone from around our state because we have such a great time together.  Also, I’m fortunate to see my wonderful friends at the Isaac Knapp Dental Assistants Society monthly professional meetings.



Connie Myers Kracher has been an ADAA member since 1989.  She is currently employed by Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne, IN.


To contact Connie:  kracher@ipfw.edu


Connie - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Cora Lee

Cora Lee

"I wouldn’t change a thing.  I love dental assisting and it’s
been rewarding.  I have met many friends who live all over
the country.  I’ve learned from other people and assistants
who have helped me grow."
-Cora Lee on change in her dental assisting career if she could.



ADAA: How did you decide to become a dental assistant?

CORA LEE: Dental Assisting was not my profession of choice when I was in high school.  Between my junior and senior year I was looking for a job over the summer.  I was referred to the position by a friend who knew the dentist I started working with.  I fell in love with dental assisting that summer.  I worked on weekends and then was hired full time.

ADAA: What was it like when you worked on your first patient?

CORA: I was probably was nervous, but I don’t really remember.  I observed for a while before jumping into chairside work.  I’ve worked in most of the positions available in a dental office for an assistant, but I’ve mainly been chairside.  My first job was chairside only and then when I started working on weekends I was switching between that and front desk.

ADAA: What are some dental industry trends which could help potential dental assistants plan for the future?

CORA: Certain states are trying to pass laws so assistants can place fillings and take impressions, and some states already allow this.  Every state is constantly trying to be up to date, which they have always done so keeping informed about changes is important.

ADAA: Are there any common myths about the dental assisting profession?

CORA: In some offices, being a Certified Dental Assistant is not important, but I think in most offices today dentist want their assistants to be certified and require it.

ADAA: What is the most gratifying accomplishment you have had as a dental assistant?

CORA: Everything I’ve done.  Receiving the awards I’ve been given, which I wasn’t expecting.  I’ve done everything because I loved doing it.   The friendships I made, though, are the most rewarding thing I’ve gained.  They are my gold egg.

ADAA: What would you like to accomplish in the future?

CORA: If and when I retire, I’d probably volunteer at a clinic.

ADAA: How can prospective dental assisting students assess their skill and aptitude?

CORA: There are just so many educational optional available to students today.  Anyone interested in the field should continue their education, come to any meetings you can and learn from each other.  I have been active in all offices through the state and local levels and it’s helped me a lot, so I encourage others to join and become active as well.

ADAA: Would you change anything about your dental assisting career if you could?  

CORA: I wouldn’t change a thing.  I love dental assisting and it’s been rewarding.  I have met many friends who live all over the country.  I’ve learned from other people and assistants who have helped me grow.  I’ve been to 13 ADAA meetings as a delegate and I stay active within the association.  I received several awards from meetings I’ve attended, I still work 4 days a week and my boss takes me to educational seminars and classes.


ADAA: What can you share with potential/future dental assistants?

CORA: Become active.  There have been major changes since I started dental assisting and I’ve learned to adapt.  OSHA has made many changes over the years regarding sterilization.  There a many new tools and equipment that are all becoming electronic.  Dentistry has gotten easier, and technology has made a big difference.


Though, taking part in the association is the best advice I can give.  You learn from the people you meet and make new friends.  A friend of mine moved to California recently, and me and four others are going to visit her become our friendship is that strong.  Also, it helps you relate to patients and the doctor, because it is very important that everyone in the office gets along.

ADAA: What is the best part of your job?

CORA: Being with people and seeing how you can help them.  Sometimes people are frightened and it’s rewarding to be able to help them relax and walk out of the office with a smile.

ADAA: How many dentists have you worked with?

CORA: Four in total.  I started in 1954 and the dentist I was working for then retired in 1998.  I’ve been with my current dentist for 11 years.


ADAA: How did you find out about ADAA?

CORA: My first boss who encouraged me to join and some people that I worked with in the area invited me to a meeting.  The Dentist also took us to educational programs.  I took a study course, because I wanted to be certified.  I started working and join the ADAA in 1954, took the CDA exam in 1956 and was certified in 1957.

ADAA: How long have you been an ADAA member?

CORA: 55 years and I’m a current life member.

ADAA: What is the best memory you have as a member?

CORA: Going to national meetings as a delegate and being with people all over the world with the same goal.  I’ve seen many changes, and all have been for the better.



Cora L Kelley has been an ADAA member since 1956.  She is currently employed by Dr Anthony Klein in Evansville, IN..


To contact Cora:  glclkelley@juno.com


Cora - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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A DENTAL ASSISTANT you should know!

Marthann Dafft


“I feel very honored and proud of the decision I made
50 years ago to become a dental assistant.”
– Marthann Dafft on her 50 years as a dental assistant!



ADAA: How did you decide to become a dental assistant?

MARTHANN DAFFT: I was getting married and needed a job, my fiancés best friend’s wife shared an office with another dentist – the dentist was 9 months into the profession; my fiancé and I went to the interview.

ADAA: Your fiancé went the interview with you?

MARTHANN: Yes, he sat next to me, during the interview, I told the dentist I knew nothing and I was hired anyway.  I was there 10 years.

ADAA: What would you change (if anything) about your dental assisting career if you could?

MARTHANN: I have been really blessed; I have only had 5 employers in the past 50 years.  The only thing I would encourage is more education.

ADAA: What can you share with potential/future dental assistants?

MARTHANN: Enjoy and love your work.  Go with it as a profession and a career not just as a 9-5 job.  Gain as much experience as you can, be active in your local/national association.  Learn to problem solve and again, truly enjoy your profession.

ADAA: What is the best part of your job?

MARTHANN: The self gratification from assisting patients, giving them information on how to take care of their teeth, making them comfortable with choosing the right treatment for them.  Also, as a business assistant, your telephone techniques are critical.

ADAA: How many dentists have you worked with?

MARTHANN: 5 dentists

ADAA: Finish this sentence:  If I knew all the things I knew now years ago, I would change….

MARTHANN: I have been extremely fortunate in my career; it has to do with the attitude towards the career that maintains a healthy attitude with what you are doing.


ADAA: What was it like when you worked on your first patient? 

MARTHANN: Frightening!  It was scary, back then we didn’t use gloves!  I didn’t want to make a mistake; my first dentist was so good at explaining everything to me.

ADAA: What are some dental industry trends which could help potential dental assistants plan for the future?  

MARTHANN: Education - an educated dental assistant is vital!  If the dental assistant is not educated to understand what he/she is doing, it can be dangerous to the patient.


Be very aware of legal duties in your state-by educating yourself, you are more aware of the legalities of what you can or cannot do.


Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point where you use the term “sell”; you don’t sell a treatment – your perform a great treatment and don’t worry about selling.

ADAA: Are there any common myths about the dental assisting profession?

MARTHANN: The biggest myth is that a dental assistant is a dental hygienist. We are not. 


ADAA: How did you find out about ADAA?

MARTHANN: Eleanor Lathrop came by my office and introduced me to the Dallas County Dental Assistants Society; she was persistent, coming by my office.  Back then you had to be a member to take the Certified Dental Assistant course in 1964.  It was the best thing that happened to me because it opened up a lot of new friendships for me along with many networking opportunities.

ADAA: What is the best memory you have as a member?

MARTHANN: All the meetings I’ve attended, coming back each year and seeing the people, making decisions to advance our profession.



Marthann Dafft has been an ADAA member since 1974.  She has served in the capacity of Trustee for Ninth District.  She works for Dr. William C. Baltazar.  She lives in Farmers Branch, TX.


Marthann is very active with the Dallas County Dental Assistants Society eNewsletter.  To view more about Dallas County Dental Assistants Society and/or sign up for the newsletter visit http://www.dcdas.org/.


You can contact Marthann directly at ldymad@sbcglobal.net


Marthann - from all of us at the ADAA Congratulations!


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