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An EFDA takes her place on the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry

April 27, 2012
DAD Editor Kevin Henry interviews Theresa Groody, the first Expanded Function Dental Assistant appointed to serve on the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry. Groody will serve on the EFDA and Scope of Practice Committees.
Editor’s Note:I recently had the opportunity to speak with Theresa Groody, director of professional studies at Harcum College. She has been appointed to a six-year term as a member of the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry. Groody was appointed by Governor Tom Corbett and confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate to serve as the first Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA) on the board.

On April 29, House Bill 602, also known as Act 19 of 2010, was signed. It made changes to the scope of practice for EFDAs and provided for the addition of one EFDA and one dentist to the Board.

As a board member, Groody will serve on the EFDA and Scope of Practice Committees.

Theresa Groody, CDA, holds an associate degree in expanded function dental assisting from Manor College, a Bachelor of Health Science in education from Gwynedd-Mercy College, and a Master of Education in instructional technology from Arcadia University. After working as director of the EFDA program at Manor College, she was appointed an adjunct professor at Harcum College, assistant dean for dental programs in the School of Continuing Studies, and then to her current position as director of professional studies. Groody was also a founding member of the Pennsylvania EFDA Association and is currently a member of the American Dental Assistants Association.
Kevin Henry: Congratulations on being named to the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry. How did this come about?
Theresa Groody: The position came about because of an amendment to the dental law. The scope of practice for EFDAs in Pennsylvania was expanded to include coronal polishing, fluoride application, and impressions for athletic appliances. Part of the verbiage of this bill included adding two new seats to the Board. I wasn’t sure what the requirements would be to hold this position, but I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t learn more. I submitted my name for consideration and was instructed to ask my local congressman to send a recommendation letter to the governor. I was selected and placed on the executive calendar to be confirmed when the Senate convened. It was interesting to learn that the Dental Board has no influence on new member selection; this is a completely political process. (Ironically, the chairman of the State Board was my first boss when I started in dentistry. Now, 32 years later, here we both sit on the State Board.)The State Board of Dentistry plays a vital role in ensuring high levels of integrity and performance in the practice of dentistry, as well as protecting the patients of the state, and I look forward to contributing to the Board’s mission in my new position. Many Dental Boards across the country invite auxiliaries to serve on their Boards, but Pennsylvania is one of the few that allows full voting rights for such members. So I am extremely grateful and honored to serve on this Board with such highly esteemed dental professionals. Pennsylvania’s Board consists of eight dentists, one hygienist, two public members, and administrative officers.Henry: As a new Board member, how are you fitting in with your colleagues?Groody: Understandably, I was out of my element and a bit nervous at my first few meetings, but my fellow Board members put me at ease by helping me understand the language, policies, structure of voting, responsibilities, and duties. I have quickly learned that as a new member, I need to be fully aware that I represent the Board and cannot give personal interpretations/opinions/responses to specific questions often asked of me as an educator. Expanded functions are defined generally as reversible procedures, and the Board is bound to the wording of the law and supporting regulations.Henry: Talk about the roles of EFDAs in Pennsylvania.Groody: In Pennsylvania, there are about 10,000 dentists, 8,000 hygienists, and only 1,500 EFDAs governed by the Board. Of course, there are many more dental assistants in the state than that, but since there are no specific state requirements, assistants are not Board regulated. In Pennsylvania, EFDAs are permitted to place and finish amalgam and composite restorations, place bases and liners, matrices and wedges. Other permitted duties now include coronal polishing, fluoride application, and impression for fabricating athletic appliances.Henry: What is your main message to dental assistants about their role in the practice?Groody: I’ve found the happiest dental assistants are supported by their dentists. If together they learn permissible duties in their state, get appropriate education, and are permitted and encouraged to perform these duties, the patients of the practice can be treated by a motivated and, therefore, successful dental team. Whether or not an assistant chooses to explore the possibility of expanded functions, dental assistants play a vital role in successful practices.