Speaker 2

Exploring choices in the dental assisting profession: Creative opportunities (Part 4 of 7)

Aug. 20, 2019
Dental assisting is a very rewarding career choice. For those who want some change outside of the operatory, there are many options available.

There comes a time in everyone’s career when they know they need a change. Dental assisting offers so many options with many wonderful opportunities.

In this series, we’ve explored options in clinical and administrative dental assisting, as well as in academia. Here we will take a look at some options outside of the office and classroom that may appeal to some people. I like to call this area “creative options or opportunities.”

When I worked in private practice, I was fortunate to have an excellent mentor who challenged my creative side in dentistry. Anthony DiAngelis, DMD, was active in several aspects of dentistry, and he was also a captivating and well-respected speaker. He encouraged me to think outside of the box and to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I am forever thankful to him for his inspiration.

So, what are some creative options? They can be virtually anything you decide to do! I will list a few, but there are too many to list in one place.

Consulting and entrepreneurship

A consultant is someone who is an expert in a particular area, who shares professional guidance in this area with others. I’ve always envied those who have taken their passion and become a guru on the subject. You probably know several of them. We have them in every area of dentistry and we love them to pieces because they make our jobs so much easier. Many of these experts have many years of experience to share with their fellow dental professionals. Others have taken their passions and started their own businesses. What could be better than being your own boss?

Tips for becoming a guru

• Have the courage to do something you want to do by identifying your area of expertise and then setting goals.
• Create a website that showcases your talents.
• Become certified in your area of expertise if certification is available.
• Network with people It really is who you know, and word of mouth is wonderful advertising.
• Determine what rates you will charge.
• Know when to say no. It really is OK to say no sometimes.


Becoming an author is easier than you may think. For me, writing is a creative way of relieving stress. (Wait! There’s no stress in dental assisting, is there?) My first project as an author was a continuing education course in 2003. I saw a need in an area that was not being covered in dental continuing education, and I ran with it. I’ve enjoyed developing courses ever since on a wide variety of topics for the entire dental team. Yes, a dental assistant can teach a dentist some new things!

Writing articles for a variety of entities is another option. I like the freedom of being able to take a topic and expand on it to educate—or entertain as I like to think of it—specific audiences. Articles can vary in length, and different writing styles are always nice to add to the mix of article offerings.

For those of you who want to go full throttle, authoring a textbook for dental assisting could be your goal. This is on my bucket list of things to accomplish. So many things have changed through the years in the dental assisting profession. Are textbooks keeping up with the changes? (I have written chapters for books, but I have not done a full-book version . . . yet! Is anyone game for giving it a go with me?) Another opportunity is authoring a book for dental professionals that’s not a textbook.


I took another step outside of my comfort zone in 2003 when I did my first public speaking at the Connecticut Dental Society. They wanted a presentation about restorative functions for dental assistants, and I talked about the various teaching modalities used in dental assisting. It was an eight-hour presentation. Talk about stressful for a first-time speaker! But it all went well. I was actually bitten by the speaking bug, and I love every opportunity I have to speak and to share my passion for dental assisting! Speaking can be very rewarding, especially for those who enjoy teaching and interacting with others.

Tips for getting into speaking

• Develop your ideas by doing things differently. You probably will not become a successful speaker by repeating old ideas in the same way as everyone else.
• Identify your ideal audience. Do you want to speak only to dental assistants or to the entire dental team? Will you cater to dental professionals only or expand your audience to include other professions? These are some things to think about.
• Test your presenting skills on coworkers, besties, or anyone else who will listen. By doing so, you will gain speaking skills and hone your techniques. As they say, practice makes perfect!
• Network with others and offer to speak to them for free. This will get your name out there. You never know where or when an opportunity will arise. This is all part of marketing yourself.
• Try various subjects and approaches. Even the driest topics can be made fun.

Advocacy and activism

Fighting for what you believe in can be a full-time job. Should you stop pursuing things you believe in after you’re established in your career? Many of my colleagues who are involved in organized dental assisting have taken part in advocacy, such as being involved in some legislative efforts. Levels of involvement range from being a member on a task force to lobbying and providing testimony before legislative bodies.

Early in my career, I became involved legislatively in the expansion of the scope of dental assisting practice in my state. From changing supervisory levels on expanded functions to attaining full licensure during more than a decade of dedicated activism, it has been truly rewarding, as well as tiresome! Others have pursued outreach with mission trips to other countries and local Missions of Mercy events. There are so many areas in which dental assistants can focus.

Tips for getting into activism and advocacy

• Educate yourself on what you would like to change, create, or improve.
• Engage the power of social media to become visible. The more visible you are, the more apt you are to be able to share your message loud and clear.
• Volunteer with like-minded people because there is strength in numbers. Things are also more fun with others, especially when tapping into others’ creativity.

These are just a few options available to dental assistants who want to stay in the dental assisting profession, but who may be looking for something different. I hope you found this series of articles helpful. The dental assisting profession is truly unique and malleable to your needs and wants; you just have to be willing to take that first step.

 If you need some one-on-one guidance or coaching or you just want to chat, please feel free to reach out to me. I love, love helping out my fellow dental assistants! Email me at [email protected]. Thank you for everything each and every one of you do for our profession!


Part 1: Clinical options 

Part 2: Administrative options

Part 3: Academic options

Natalie Kaweckyj, BA, LDA, CDA, RF, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPFDA, CRFDA, MADAAis a senior moderator of the Dental Peeps Network and a past president of the ADAA.