End of summer: Time to reset your career?

Aug. 22, 2011
Are you happy in your career? Natalie Kaweckyj, LDARF, CDA, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPDA, MADAA, BA, president of the American Dental Assistants Association, says dental assistants can take a cue from the back-to-school craze and hit the reset button to make a professional change.
The dog days of summer are upon us and we are being bombarded with hype about back-to-school sales, back-to-school supplies, and back-to-school clothes. Many of us are just getting comfortable with the summer season, and the media wants us to believe that "back to school" is code for "buy more stuff for the kids." But those of us who have school-aged children know how important it is to be prepared for the first day of school.As busy professionals, we can take a cue from the back-to-school craze and do a little something for ourselves. If you’re unhappy in your current position, maybe it’s time to hit the reset button and make a professional change by making your career matter! This can apply to anyone, whether the brand new dental assistant still looking for that first job, or the seasoned dental assistant looking for a change.The economy has given us leverage — the power to make a difference, the inspiration to spread our ideas, and the power to have an impact not only on ourselves, but also on the rest of the dental team and the patients we serve. Outside of our immediate place of employment, we have the leverage to make a difference in our profession locally, statewide, or nationally. More people have more influence to change the world than at any other time in history. You can be one of them!Power to connect. Social media in this day and age is either a waste of time, a mindless distraction, or perhaps, just maybe, a niche between you and the rest of the profession. How you use this technology is entirely up to you. If you’re keeping score of how many followers or friends you have, how many comments you get, or how big your online footprint is, then you’re evaluating the wrong things, and you’re probably distracting yourself from what really matters in your career. Conversely, digital media can offer you a chance to make professional connections, gain knowledge, and increase insights from individuals you would not have a chance to interact with any other way. When you can contact and perhaps change people, you can gain influence. In the past we were isolated; now we’re connected. The typical individual didn’t have the time or money or connections to be heard just a few years ago. Today the door is wide open. Many dental professionals use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay connected with “those in the know.”Learning never stops. A generation ago, school existed so people could learn a trade. They apprenticed, and then they worked the rest of their lives in the same job, in the same town, doing the same work. Times have changed because many professions have evolved. The dental assisting profession I entered almost two decades ago has grown exponentially. Why? Because someone was able to influence the profession to change — for the better! When the kids go back to school, why not participate in some continuing education? The American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) is meeting jointly with the American Dental Association (ADA) in Las Vegas October 10 – 14, offering world-class education for the entire dental team. Talk about the power to change! We’re all meeting in one city at the same time ... with the leaders of our profession making decisions that will impact our future, so join us! Take an active role in your profession. If you can’t make the trip, we offer many excellent courses to keep you informed about our ever-changing career. Visit us at www.dentalassistant.org and go to the continuing education section. If you are ready to challenge yourself and make a difference in your profession, I invite you to contact me at [email protected] and I will point you in a new direction through networking with colleagues. I thank each and every one of you for all you do for dentistry. You do make a difference!Natalie

President, American Dental Assistants Association