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Dental Assistant Recognition Week: How hygienists can pitch in to recognize their teammates

Feb. 27, 2017
Nicole Giesey, RDH, outlines ways for hygienists to show their appreciation for dental assistants during Dental Assistant Recognition Week.

By Nicole Giesey, RDH, MSPTE

Holidays and special recognition days are a chance for us to really show our appreciation that may go unnoticed to those being celebrated. Every March, one of our fellow teammates are honored with a week of appreciation and recognition. Dental Assistant Recognition Week is March 5-11 this year. How can dental hygienists go out of the box and really show appreciation to dental assistants?

Dental assistants work alongside us in our offices day in and day out with the same goals—to provide excellent patient care. Being a dental assistant from the beginning of my career, I know how hard that job really is. Anytime a hygienist has free time I strongly recommend stepping into an assistant’s role and helping out just to see the other side of the chair.

Hygienists know how to multitask, but dental assistants have so many roles that they remind me of an octopus with multiple arms and hands working on various tasks at once. Some dentists depend so heavily on one dental assistant that if the assistant becomes sick the office will just close. Literally, they just reschedule everyone. Assistants don’t have enough on their shoulders; they also have guilt if they are sick and need to call off working to recuperate.

Learn what they do

Being able to help out as an assistant while you have downtime makes the hygienist more of asset than you think. During Dental Assistant Recognition Week, maybe take this time to really dive in and ask your assistant to show you some of her roles, if you have never assisted before. They will be excited to see your interest and you will learn so much even if it’s on just one or two patients. If you could assist on some procedures that are commonly recommended, you will also get to see firsthand what exactly is involved in the procedure.

I know we are very busy and have our own business within the office. But if you have the time, grasp this week and really learn the role of your assistant. Like the old saying goes, you really can’t understand a person’s perspective unless you walk a mile in their shoes…

Giving back a perk

You can also shower the assistants in some unexpected fun ways. One way would be to give them the time to relax, have fun, and enjoy some unusual perks. If at the end of the day you see the assistant having to clean instruments, take out trash, and still call in an order, maybe you can take on her load and let her leave early that day, after making sure this is OK with the boss first, of course.

Giving someone a gift of your time is sometimes the best gift you can give. Of course, the traditional gifts such as a surprise lunch, surprise breakfast, or an unexpected card with a nice gift to go along with it will certainly not hurt either.

A fun way to get the office involved would be a fun surprise for everyday of the week. Getting something that is unexpected is always the best. It can be totally small and relatable to the office as well. An office that I work in never—and I mean never—has pens. For fun, I brought in a pen bouquet, and the assistants went nuts. It was fun and we still laugh about that now.

If you take turns doing laundry in the office, take on her week. Anything personal is also nice. Like stated before, it doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. It’s the little things that truly last as being an equal teammate and show appreciation.

The office can also go a step further too really recognize your superstar assistant and use some of the ideas put forward by the American Dental Assistant’s Association.

Some ideas are to showcase a smiling picture of your assistants on a “wall of recognition” in the patient waiting room, spreading the word on your social media to show how much the office values their staff, ending the week with an office lunch focused on the assistant.

Some other fun tips are that National Dentist day is March 6th so this year your assistant might, only for one day, share the spotlight with your favorite dentist. Have fun with these fun recognitions and celebrate your team.

Nicole Giesey, RDH, MSPTE, enjoys researching, writing, and educating on topics related to dental hygiene. She is the dental hygiene product specialist for Maxill. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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