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Intention (for today's dental assistants)

Nov. 20, 2013
Assistants are encouraged to become part of their professional organization

By Lori Paschall, CDA, CDPMA, CRFDA, FADAA
President, 2013-2014, American Dental Assistants Association

What are your intentions? These are four simple, yet powerful words. When I joined this association, my intention was to find a way to meet people when I moved from Florida to South Carolina. I accomplished this goal and as I continued to avail myself of the opportunities in my local society, unbeknownst to me, my intentions changed. I was not aware of it at the time, but a very wise woman looked over at me while I was driving us to our local society meeting and asked, “What are your intentions?”

My intention at the time was to simply take her to a meeting and bring her home again, but her words continued to resonate with me. What are my intentions with regards to my profession and professional organization? Could I possibly 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?

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I believe those of us who entered the profession of dental assisting did so because of our desire to help people. Your original intention may have been to serve people, and hopefully this is still true, but ultimately our involvement with the ADAA helps us to grow our profession and pursue things that would not have been possible for dental assistants only a short while ago. Changes are abundant in our field today, especially in the way we provide care. To keep up, today’s dental assistant must stay abreast of the current concepts and technology. There is no room for mediocrity in the delivery of professional health care. Change can be scary, change can be exciting, but change will always be necessary. We cannot move forward as an association or a profession without positive change.

This does not mean, however, that we forget our roots and where we came from. Our SADAA chapters exemplify this in their motto, “Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future.” This challenge is not unique to our organization. It is being echoed across the country in every facet of business, medicine, education, and more. Change will come, whether we’re ready for it or not. It isn’t the change itself we should be concerned about, but how we’re going to respond to the changes before us. How can we learn to accept change in our profession proactively rather than reactively?

Walt Disney said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we are curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” This is an exciting time for us as an association. More states are adding dental assistants to their dental boards and introducing legislation for registering dental assistants, as well as requiring continuing education and exploring basic standards for dental assistants. What a great new path! This is a positive step in growing a strong profession. In order to continue to move forward, we need to increase our membership in ways that we may not be accustomed to.

Being curious, thinking outside the box, getting creative, and reaching out to dental assistants in new ways will lend itself to our continued growth. How do we accomplish this? Intention. How we reach out to our members, prospective members, and dentists must be streamlined. We need to highlight the benefits of being a member of a professional association and how that impacts us educationally, legislatively, and personally. Intention. With this comes the task of enlisting the support of dentists who understand the value of assistants who are well educated and members of their professional organization. This needs to become the prevailing attitude of the entire dental community.

With this in mind, what are your intentions? It is my intention to uphold the principles and integrity of the American Dental Assistants Association while continuing to seek new ways to encourage growth in membership, increase the educational opportunities for dental assistants, and pursue the longevity and strength of both this organization and the profession of dental assisting. It is a privilege and great honor to serve as your president.

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