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6 ways to make this Dental Assistants Recognition Week one to remember

Feb. 28, 2022
It's almost time to celebrate those valuable team members—dental assistants! Here's how to make Dental Assistants Recognition Week extra special this year.

Dental Assistants Recognition Week, DARW, is March 6–12. This week was created by the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) to recognize all the dedicated and hard-working assistants who go above and beyond for their patients, coworkers, and doctors.

What’s that, you say? You’ve never heard of DARW? Your doctor doesn’t celebrate it? While there are many offices that take the time to acknowledge special days for team members, many do not. Don’t let that stop you from celebrating other assistants and yourself!

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The history of what dental assistants do and why we do it dates to the late 1800s. The profession has grown from the very first “lady in attendance” to what we now call dental assistants. A job that was created to enable women to go to a dental appointment without a male chaperone has blossomed into a career with a demanding skill set and the patience of a saint. Today we’re more than 350,000 strong! 

Our profession has grown to include expanded functions and lab skills with digital technology. Many of us are on-the-job trained, and we’ve all pushed our profession to new levels. Several states have appointed a dental assistant to sit on the state dental board, and many have a state component of the ADAA. This is comprised of officers and a board that help elevate dental assistants’ roles in the state by working on passing legislation, among other things.

The Dental Assistant National Board (DANB) has created several paths for assistants to excel. The organization offers accreditation for a National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA), Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA), Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA), and Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA). The newest one, Certified Dental Infection and Prevention and Control (CDIPC), will be available in a few months.

Our long hours, few breaks, exhaustion, and stress levels are forgotten when we see patients smile with confidence for the first time, or parents cry because they’re so happy their child is no longer in pain.

How you can celebrate DARW

If your practice doesn’t celebrate you, then you need to celebrate you! Here are a few things to do.

  1. Grab the rest of the assistants and head out to lunch. Even if you’re the only assistant, take a break.
  2. Go above and beyond saying “thank you” this week. While we should be doing this every day, do more of it this week. Recognize each other for all we do.
  3. Write notes to your fellow assistants. This costs so little and can mean so much.
  4. Have an office potluck. Throw down some grub and enjoy lunch together.
  5. Make sure your patients know this is a special week and recognize each other in front of them.
  6. Post pictures on social media. Team members are like family, so snap some pictures and show the world your work family.

Be sure to celebrate the recognition days for other team members, like Administrative Professionals’ Day (April 27), National Dental Hygienist Week (April 11-15), National Boss’s Day (October 16), and National Dentist’s Day (March 6, which is the first day of DARW this year). Show some love to your dental lab technicians in June during National Dental Technician and CDT Appreciation Month.

But during DARW, take pride in yourself, strive to be your best, reach higher, and do more. You’re an amazing team member who gives of yourself every day. You are a dental assistant! While not everyonel understands why we work so hard, we know why. This profession isn’t for everyone; it’s for the best of the best, and that means you. So, celebrate you!

About the Author

Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA

Tija Hunter, CDA, CDIA, CDIPC, CDSH, CDSO, EFDA, MADAA, is a member and former vice president of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), where she holds the honor of Master. She is the director of the Dental Careers Institute, a dental assisting and dental continuing education program, and the author of seven continuing education study courses. She is an international speaker and a certified trainer in nitrous oxide in several states. She can be reached at [email protected].

Updated January 12, 2024