Farewell from the 2013-2014 ADAA president

Lori Paschall says it's been an honor and a privilege to serve such a wonderful group of professionals as president of ADAA

Lori Paschall
At the beginning of my term, I posed a question that I was asked many years ago, “What is your intention?” It seems like a simple question, but coming up with an answer is not so simple. When I think back over the previous year, I wonder if I was able to accomplish what I had intended for my time with the American Dental Assistants Association.

When I joined the ADAA, my original intention was to meet people, as I had recently moved to a new state where I didn’t know anyone except my family. Over the years I have met so many wonderful people, and this year has been no exception. From students to seasoned dental assisting professionals, it never ceases to amaze me the level of passion for the profession that so many have shared. Students from north to south and east to west were so excited to be embarking on a new career path, and it didn't matter if this was their first career or they were students re-entering the workforce – they couldn't wait to share their new experiences. There was also passion from seasoned dental assisting professionals. Even after years of practicing as clinical, administrative, and educational dental assistants, I could still see the spark that led them to dental assisting all those years earlier. I was also inspired by the experiences people shared about the highs and lows of both the profession and the Association, as well as by their suggestions on how to make things better.

I pondered these questions more than a year ago when I made the decision to set sail on this course – “Could I be a catalyst to affect change for the betterment of my association? Could I find a way to impart my love for dental assisting to others?” My heart has always been and will continue to be with the thousands of dental assistants that ADAA represents. I have often been asked, “How is your year going?” or “What are your plans for your year?”

It may have been my turn to be the figurehead of this Association, but I choose to look at it as our year. What have we done? Did we make our Association better? Did we impart our love for dental assisting to others? Although there were some bumps in the road, I believe we did accomplish this. We made real inroads with organizations that we have not worked with closely before, and renewed some old relationships that will help us move forward. We are actively working with initiatives intended to serve as a springboard for better patient and employee care and safety regarding infection control and sterilization. New legislative and educational opportunities this year have made it possible for dental assistants from coast to coast to be better recognized as the dental professionals that we are. We have served as mentors and guides for those who are coming after us, as those who came before did for us.

All of these things have involved some sort of change. Change is difficult; we hear this all the time. After 90 years, the ADAA has made some changes to enhance our organization and enable us to keep up with a lot of things that will keep us current and relevant, and will continue to do so long after I’m gone. Some may be a little more difficult to accept than others, but they are very necessary for us if we want to still be celebrating dental assistants and dental assisting in another 90 years.

We know change can be uncomfortable and change will cause us to stretch, but stretching is what helps us to grow and be strong. This is such an exciting time to be a dental assistant! I think Juliette Southard would be proud. After all, she was the original catalyst for change for dental assistants. Without her forward thinking and vision, we would not be where we are today. Leaders see things as they are, then they see them better. Ms. Southard certainly saw our profession better.

As my year comes to a close, I cannot begin to thank all of the dental professionals who have helped me along this journey. Quoting from the Chinese Proverb of Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Our journey is still evolving one step at a time. But as we continue to work together, the American Dental Assistants Association and the profession of dental assisting will continue to evolve, grow, and prosper. It has been a joy, a privilege, and an honor to serve this year as president of the ADAA.

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