In May, PennWell will hold the second Professional Dental Assisting Conference. This is a three-day meeting just for dental assistants! It is exciting to see dental corporations and manufacturers appreciate the value of the professional dental assistant. As president of the American Dental Assistants Association, I am privileged to travel around the country and meet dental assistants from all areas of dentistry. When I talk with dentists at these meetings, I always ask them, “Who in your office is indispensable?” They always answer, “My dental assistant.”
But do we really receive the respect we deserve? Are you a “professional dental assistant” or just the “office girl?” Is dental assisting a career for you or just a “job?” The difference can be reflected in your paycheck and status.
A professional dental assistant is someone who continues to learn and grow in their position. Being a member of your professional organization, the American Dental Assistants Association, can help you find new opportunities to expand your role in dentistry. The ADAA membership includes business assistants, clinical assistants, educators, dental sales representatives, and practice-management consultants.
When you belong to the ADAA, you are part of an organization that provides continuing education, networking, study groups, legislative efforts, professional liability insurance, scholarships, and much more. Our Web site, www.dentalassistant.org, has information and links to other organizations and, in the future, will have our continuing education online as well.
At regional and national dental meetings, ADAA provides “hands on” seminars that bring new products and techniques to you in a unique learning experience. We will be presenting our “Learning in the Round” Seminar at PennWell’s Professional Dental Assisting Conference. At our ADAA 2007 Annual Conference in San Francisco, we will host a “Dental Assistants Only” reception for all dental assistants attending the ADA meeting, as well as presenting our “Learning in the Round.”
ADAA knows that dental assistants are the heart of the dental office. A survey of our members shows that 94 percent provide counseling for patients on post-treatment and home care, and 75 percent influence decisions or purchase dental supplies and equipment. Most of us have been with our current employer over 11 years, and 43 percent of us have been in dental assisting over 20 years.
Staying on top of the latest techniques and materials by reading professional journals such as ADAA’s The Dental Assistant and PennWell’s Dental Office increases your value to your patients and your doctor. Attending dental meetings and the exhibit halls gives you a great perspective on the expanding dental industry. The Professional Dental Assisting Conference will be a great meeting for continuing education, networking, exhibits and fun, all in three days. It will be held in Indianapolis May 10 to 12, 2007. I attended the first PDA conference last year, and it was exciting to see assistants come together from all over the country.
Dental assisting as a profession is changing and growing. I urge you to take advantage of the great opportunities to attend meetings that are geared for your profession. Plan now to attend the Professional Dental Assisting Conference in May and the ADAA Annual Conference in San Francisco in September.
If you are not a member, join your professional organization, the American Dental Assistants Association. If you are a member, stick with us. We are the organization dedicated to making dental assisting a profession-we are working for you! Visit www.dentalassistant.org to learn more.
Cathy J. Roberts
CDA, EFDA, COA, CDPMA, MADAA