Truth or dare: uncovering common myths of membership in the ADAA

April 24, 2012
Claudia Pohl, CDA, RDA, FADAA, BVEd, president of the American Dental Assistants Association, gives you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about membership in the ADAA. We dare you to read this.

During the Hinman Dental Meeting in Atlanta last month, I had the opportunity to participate in the ADAA Roundtables. As I spent time with dental assistants from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Ohio, I had the chance to find out what it’s like to practice dental assisting in each of those states. We may live thousands of miles apart, and some things are very different, but many things are very much the same.

While talking with my peers from across the country, the conversation turned to ADAA membership. I must say I was a bit surprised by some of the answers I heard to their perceptions about membership in the ADAA. So, here are some truths to common myths about the ADAA. I dare you to read it!

I’m not a member because I’m not certified.
You don’t have to be certified (or registered or licensed) to be a member. The ADAA is a member organization and the only “requirement” is that you are a dental assistant. Membership in ADAA is very inclusive, including students, military assistants, business assistants, educators, sales reps, and more. It includes dental assistants who are trained on the job and who have graduated from school.

I don’t want to go to meetings every month.
Membership does not require you to attend any meetings at all. That said, why are there meetings? Meetings provide continuing education and a chance to network with other assistants in your area. The ADAA provides quality education through live and home study courses. The great benefit is there is a choice for you to keep yourself current and educated to stay up-to-date within the profession. Whether you choose live courses or home study, the ADAA is your connection to education.

Why should I join? I don’t get more money by being a member.
No, you probably won’t make more money because of it — directly, anyway. However, research shows that assistants who are members of their professional organization stay in the field longer and do make more money. Why? Membership in a professional organization reflects an assistant who is serious about his or her career — the more educated and vested people are in their career, the more likely they are to be a part of their professional organization.

When I think of the ADAA, I think of having to pay dues.
Well, it’s true that you do have to pay dues if you’re a professional member. I don't know of any professional organization that does not require dues. Did you know that a portion of your dues goes to your individual state to support legislative efforts to maintain and/or establish state licensure for dental assistants? Not to mention all the other wonderful benefits our professional members enjoy. All of that for only 33 cents a day! You can join as an e-member for free, but you’ll have limited benefits.

So does this need to be renewed every year? How much are the dues?
Yes, like any membership it needs to be renewed each year (at the end of the year). The membership is tri-partite, meaning that when you join the ADAA, you automatically become part of the state organization and a local organization. Each state has its own dues structure, but on average, the yearly dues are $121.

So, what are the benefits?
You will receive the publication six times a year, and have access to unlimited free online CE courses, liability insurance, free resume/job postings, scholarships, and awards. We also have hotel, car, and credit card discounts. These are just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy as an ADAA professional member.

But the biggest benefits for me are the intangible ones. I’ve been a member for 37 years and in that time I’ve met other assistants at meetings who have become my friends. I now have friends and contacts across the country that I can call on — like the time a student moved to another state and I was able to contact someone in that state to help her. There was another time as I prepared for accreditation and had no idea what to do, and a friend sent me a box full of her materials to use. To me, that’s priceless.

The other intangible benefit is that the ADAA is the voice of dental assisting and works on our behalf to make it the best profession possible. The state organizations that work in each of your states to bring legislation are what will improve the practice of dental assisting. So, even if you’re a member who chooses not to go to meetings or become a leader, your membership gives that voice more influence and power as we work on your behalf.

There’s not a local group in my area.
Most states have groups called societies that are within driving distance, but not always. New societies or study groups can be formed anywhere there are interested dental assistants. It only takes two people to start a local group — what a great opportunity to make a difference. The ADAA offers guidance manuals on how to start a local group in your area, as well as support from your district trustee, all designed to help you get started and be a success. But even in the absence of a local group, the benefits of membership are worth it!

So, there's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about membership in the ADAA. Now for the dare — how serious are you about your career? Are you "just a dental assistant," or are you a health-care provider? There’s a big difference, so I dare you to join the thousands of other professional dental assistants who are already members! You can find membership information on our website. Don’t delay — do it today!

Claudia Pohl, CDA, RDA, FADAA, BVEd
President, American Dental Assistants Association

The people who make dental assisting a profession