Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW), which will be held March 7-13 as designated by the American Dental Assistants Association, is an opportunity to highlight just how valuable dental assistants are to their teams and patients. This has been even truer during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dental Assisting National Board and the DALE Foundation have always known that dental assistants are essential to the operation of the dental office and to the successful, safe delivery of patient care. Thus, we believe DARW is essential as well, especially since dental assistants may feel they don’t always receive the acknowledgement they deserve.
Here is some of the feedback we hear from dental assistants.
“We are the work horses of the office, but we sometimes feel underappreciated for all of the hard work we put in,” says Ana, CDA, CRFDA. “It’s nice to hear and feel that we are truly important and appreciated, so this is why Dental Assistants Recognition Week is important.”
“So often, we are overlooked,” agrees Carol, CDA. “But the assistant is very much a vital part of the dental team. Recognizing dental assistants is important every day, not just one week per year.”
Dental assistants deserve recognition year-round, and DARW brings much-needed attention to this. Here, we highlight three key reasons why DARW is important.
DARW raises awareness about the dental assisting profession.
Dental assistants have a wide range of responsibilities, with many reporting that they have taken on more duties in the dental office since spring 2020. But it’s likely that not everyone knows the extent of a dental assistant’s busy day. Enter DARW, which annually spotlights the breadth of dental assistants’ roles, as well as their extensive knowledge and skill sets.
Dental assistants might attend a formal dental assistant educational program to launch their careers, or they may learn on the job through training provided by their employer and colleagues. Many dental assistants choose to further their career by earning and maintaining DANB certification and completing continuing education such as the options available online through the DALE Foundation.
Additionally, some dental assistants may perform expanded functions duties as their states allow, or may have infection control duties, front desk duties, and more. The sky is the limit for dental assistants who are motivated to grow professionally, and they deserve recognition.
“So many people do not understand our role in dentistry, and this is why Dental Assistants Recognition Week is important,” says Angela.
Meghan, CDA, agrees. “Giving dental assistants recognition, even if only for a week, brings awareness to the profession and the professionals who are in it.”
DARW highlights dental assistants’ valuable contributions.
It’s true. Dental assistants make valuable contributions to the dental office in many ways. Perhaps the most critical is through helping patients every step of the way through their appointments. Dental assistants do this by comforting, educating, and staying with patients from the moment they walk through the door until they’re ready to leave the office, hopefully smiling and grateful.
When dental assistants comment on the importance of DARW, they say the patient care factor is a main reason to celebrate themselves and their colleagues. “Dental assistants often go unrecognized in health care,” states Brittany. “We make patients’ experiences so much better.”
And of course, dental assistants’ extremely important role in keeping patients and providers safe deserves recognition beyond measure, especially in light of recent COVID-19 exposure concerns.
“Dental assistants are important to the patient care process of communication and infection control,” insists Jill, CPFDA, CRFDA. “Keep it up, everyone!”
DARW acknowledges assistants as important dental team members.
Achieving successful patient care outcomes in the dental office is the result of tight-knit dental teams working together toward a common goal of helping others. We know the dental assistant has a pivotal role on the dental team. Beyond providing patient care and often having a hand in keeping the team and patients safe, dental assistants can also be counted on to keep the team on task and help maintain an overall positive rapport in the office.
Katherine, CDA, can speak to the value of dental assistants for the entire team. “I believe that dental assistants are the heart of any dental clinic,” she says. “Without them, things would not be done in order and on time.”
“Dental assistants do so much to keep a practice moving forward,” adds Kathy, CDA. “Our teams can’t do it without us!”