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Sept. 1, 2007
The editors of Dental Office Magazine sat down with Cathy J. Roberts, National President of the American Dental Assistants Association, to learn more about the nation’s oldest, largest organization for dental assistants.

The editors of Dental Office Magazine sat down with Cathy J. Roberts, National President of the American Dental Assistants Association, to learn more about the nation’s oldest, largest organization for dental assistants.

Dental Office: After establishing yourself as a dental team professional, you opted to become active in ADAA.

Cathy J. Roberts - I was a student member of the ADAA and one of my instructors shared some good advice: be a member of your professional association. I have been involved for nearly 35 years.

DO: What are the primary goals of the ADAA?

CJR - Our goal is to enhance the careers of dental assistants through education, legislation and credentialing, and most importantly, to promote high quality dental care for the public.

DO: So dental assistants everywhere can make a contribution? You don’t have to be a speaker or a writer to contribute?

CJR - No. Getting involved, keeping up with CE, and providing the best care for patients are great contributions to the profession.

DO: Do you have to be certified or registered to join ADAA? Is ADAA primarily for clinical assistants?

CJR - No. Although a majority of our members are clinical assistants, all assistants are welcome to become members of the ADAA.

DO: How do you serve the practice administrator or business assistant?

CJR - We have a special issue of the Journal, as well as coverage of business information and CE available. We present courses on practice management. Many of our members are national speakers who were featured at the PennWell PDA conference in May.

DO: Another strong presence at your conventions is that of dental assisting educators. Do you make a special effort to include this slice of the profession in the ADAA?

CJR - Dental Assisting Educators provide students with an introduction to the ADAA and the dental assisting profession. The ADAA provides many benefits for students.

DO: How are dental assisting students recognized?

CJR - We provide student scholarships, a newsletter, the ADAA Dental Assistant Journal, and CE and review courses at the member rate. Many local organizations have mentoring programs and meetings to bring students into the local dental community.

DO: We see a lot of military people at your conventions, and there are always articles for them in your Journal. Why is this?

CJR - The ADAA provides CE for the Army and Air Force dental assistants. We are very proud of the dental assistants who serve our country and profession.

DO: Is there much difference between a civilian dental assistant and one who works for the military?

CJR - The Army and Air Force dental assistants are soldiers first and dental assistants second. Civilian dental assistants work in the Army and Air Force dental clinics and perform the same duties as in private practice.

DO: You also seem to be developing a lot of corporate recognition in terms of the ADAA Foundation. Why is that?

CJR - Dental corporations are recognizing that dental assistants purchase the supplies, make decisions on what to buy and from which company.

DO: What is done with the contributions from corporations and individuals?

CJR - The ADAA Foundation handles all contributions. Our Foundation has over 50 corporate contributors. The Foundation funds home study education development, education sessions at national conferences, scholarships and research.

DO: So continuing education underlies the goals of both the ADAA and the Foundation. Do you think that the ADAA can do a better job of supplying this education than a commercial organization?

CJR - The ADAA can supply dental assisting education because we are all dental assistants. We understand the education needed to advance our careers.

DO: Is there anything else you would like to mention?

CJR - One of the primary benefits of ADAA is the networking with other dental assistants. As president, I’ve traveled to different state meetings, and I always learn something new from other assistants. I urge all of you to become members of your professional organization and to be an agent of change in your dental practice and in the profession. Learn all you can about your position and the skills you need to do the most you can within the dental laws of your state. Be proactive in your state and work for the future of dental assisting.

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Cathy J. Roberts
ADAA President