Turning a spark into a flame

July 23, 2012
Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, shares her thoughts about how to get dental assistants to realize the value of continuing education and the importance of belonging to the American Dental Assistants Association.

Have you ever tried to start a fire with no matches or lighter? Just maybe rub two sticks together? It’s not easy! You have a spark, then maybe a couple of sparks, and then nothing. How do you get that spark to rise into a flame?

I find the same is true in our profession. How do you get dental assistants to realize the value of continuing education, the importance of belonging to our own national organization (American Dental Assistants Association), and seeing the personal and professional satisfaction it brings?

I guess I don’t get it. I earned DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification and I continue to maintain it; that’s my accomplishment. My membership in the ADAA is something I cherish. It’s camaraderie with fellow assistants, helping to shape the world of dentistry, helping each other, taking continuing education, and growing and learning together. Even before I earned my CDA I took as much continuing education as possible. The information I get from every class helps me do my job that much better, and makes me more valuable. In my career, those things are important to me. I guess I don’t understand how they’re not important to all assistants who want to better themselves.

I live in Illinois, just this side of St. Louis. We have never had a local chapter of the ADAA in our area. As a matter of fact, because of that, I knew nothing about the ADAA for several years. Now, trying to share the message and the value it brings is like hitting my head into a brick wall.

We all have families; our lives are busy. At work, we have our routine down pat. Sometimes, we get stuck in the rut of same old, same old. Maybe we don’t work in the most positive environment. Our motivational and enthusiasm batteries may run low. If left to run low too long, they die all together!

The meetings, continuing education, and interacting with other DAs recharge my batteries. This energizes me and gets my attitude back in check. Having the right attitude is key to having a better life. I get to see old friends and make new ones. I hear where the job openings are, how other offices handle situations, trade suggestions, and spend a lot of time laughing.

Are your batteries running low? Are you stuck in that get up/go to work/come home/make dinner/go to bed/do it all over again rut? Then take your professional life to a new level and shake things up. The satisfaction you’ll feel will amaze you!

Do you have ideas for our industry? Do you want to see changes in our profession? Is there an opportunity to get involved in your community to improve oral and overall health? Get involved and make things happen and be a part of something bigger.

Each of us is a spark. Together, we are the flame!

If you're an Illinois dental assistant, please “Like” the Illinois Dental Assistant Association Facebook page. Thank you!

Author bio
Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, is a 1981 graduate of the Missouri College, and has 30 years of chairside experience. She is currently the office manager/assistant to Dr. Eric Hurtte. She is a member of the ADAA and the founder of the Dental Assistants Study Club of St. Louis. She is an independent consultant specializing in assistant training, team building, and office organization. She can be reached at [email protected], or find her on Facebook.