Making a difference -- believe it or not, you do!

May 24, 2011
Natalie Kaweckyj, LDARF, CDA, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPDA, MADAA, BA, president of the American Dental Assistants Association, explains the various awards the ADAA offers to recognize exceptional dental assistants and charges her colleagues to consider how they can make a difference in the profession.

Every day as dental assistants we make a difference, whether we realize it or not. To our patients we add comfort and reassurance during procedures while working chairside, make scheduling and finances a breeze when working administratively, and mold the future of our profession as educators. And let’s not forget those dental assistants who work in the dental industry in the armed services. Everyone makes an impact!

During my travels as president of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), I have encountered both members and nonmembers who make a difference beyond the 8 to 5 workday through various activities and busy family and professional lives. Some stand out with the number of years they have been members of the ADAA, while others shine through community service projects that better the lives of the less fortunate. We all know people who go out of their way to stand out professionally, but do we let these individuals know they are appreciated? Now is your chance!

The ADAA has several avenues to recognize members for exceptional commitment to our profession. The first is an ongoing section in the weekly e-newsletter 24/7 called “A Dental Assistant to Know.” It is a great opportunity to recognize a member. Check out this site — you just might know some of these great dental assistants. We are always looking for members who should be recognized for their achievements. Maybe you could be the next “Dental Assistant to Know”!

The ADAA is also accepting nominations for a variety of awards that will be given out during the ADAA Annual Session in Las Vegas in October 2011. The deadline for submission is June 30. The New Member Award honors those who stand out in the profession with less than five years of membership, while the Loyalty Award honors those who have been most loyal to their employer. We also have the ADAA/Sunstar Americas Pride Award for the administrative assistant, clinical assistant, educator, Air Force Federal Services assistant, and Army Federal Services assistant. This award is given in each category to the assistant who stands out as the most loyal to oneself as well as to the dental assisting profession.

The ADAA President’s Award of Excellence is awarded to the member who has shown the most outstanding achievements in promoting the objectives of the Association, as well as furthering the dental assisting profession. This prestigious award is given out during the President’s Gala during the ADAA annual session. Additional information on each of the ADAA Awards can be accessed here. Why not honor a coworker or colleague with a nomination?

In addition to a busy travel month during May, several birthdays of friends and colleagues, and anticipating the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the accomplishments of dental assistants who are no longer with us. Some of them were lifelong educators, one was in practice management, and two were retired from chairside assisting. I recall the tremendous loss I felt when I heard of each one’s passing, but I took time to remember the wonderful things gleaned from each individual professionally. Two would have celebrated birthdays this month. All had contributed to their dental practices and the patients they served, as well as to the members of their local dental assisting societies and state dental assisting associations. Several helped shape some of the dental assistants who are practicing today. Each one left an impression on the dental assisting profession that will not be forgotten. Take some time during this season of remembrance to think about how you can make a difference in our profession.

I hope you had a safe and happy holiday weekend!

President, American Dental Assistants Association