Recognizing your excellence

March 16, 2012
The Dental Assisting National Board recognizes dental assistants for their excellence during Dental Assistants Recognition Week, and suggests ways they can enhance their professionalism throughout the year.

This month, dental assistants were recognized for their excellence during Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW). Held annually during the first full week of March, DARW is a time for all dental professionals to take time to say “thank you” to dental assistants for the great contributions they make to the dental team.

DARW is hosted by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Dental Assistants Association, the Canadian Dental Association and the Canadian Dental Assistants Association. “Today’s dental assistants are role models of professional development. [They] strengthen the entire dental team and enhance patient satisfaction,” the ADA says.

This year, DARW was held March 4-12 with the theme “Key to Productivity: The Professional Dental Assistant.” Dental offices, dental clinics and dental assisting classrooms all hosted celebrations during this special week. Some dental assistants received flowers, while others were given an extra day off. Thank-you cards, gift cards, team lunches and other treats were other great ways the dental team showed their appreciation to assistants.

“Any dentist knows that a good dental assistant makes the day go better,” says Dr. Lisa Gushin, a general dentist in North Carolina. In fact, some studies show a dentist working with a skilled dental assistant can increase productivity. Dental assistants are achieving new heights of professional growth by taking continuing education, receiving advanced training and being delegated more duties, she adds.

Dr. Gushin says she sees a high level of professionalism in her team — particularly the assistants who hold DANB certification. “You can see the pride in what they do,” she stresses.

Recognition all year aiong
Although DARW is just seven days, there are many ways to enhance your professionalism throughout the year. Earning and maintaining DANB certification is an excellent way to demonstrate your knowledge and show your pride. Dental assistants who earn DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification receive a certificate and lapel pin, which they can proudly display all year.

DANB exams and certifications are recognized or required in 38 states plus Washington, D.C., the Air Force and the Department of Veterans Affairs. DANB’s CDA certification is often one of the requirements to expose radiographs or perform expanded functions.

For dental assistants who are interested in earning DANB certification or who would like to take courses to move into expanded duties, Dr. Gushin recommends discussing those career goals. “Tell the doctor that you want to earn DANB certification or take continuing dental education so that you can help the office be more efficient and run more smoothly. Show how it will save time and money if, as a dental assistant, you can take on more responsibilities to free up the dentists’ time for other procedures,” Dr. Gushin suggests. “Above all, be confident and know that you are a professional.”

Dr. Gushin recognizes the importance of maintaining certification and pays her assistants’ renewal fees. She also takes continuing dental education courses with her staff and encourages them to excel by taking the whole team to dental conferences.

Continuing education is an excellent way to reward yourself. By furthering your knowledge, you can enhance your own career, as well as the practice in which you work. The DALE Foundation, the official DANB affiliate, offers online interactive CE courses that are available all year long. The DALE Foundation’s courses and study aids can help you review for DANB exams or earn CE credits to renew your certification.

However you chose to celebrate DARW, remember that you are a valuable member of the team. As Carol Stamm, CDA, RDA, says, “Dental assistants should always be treated well; their job is important and the office couldn’t carry on without them.”

To learn more about DANB exams and certification, visit To learn more about the DALE Foundation, visit