Ninety years ago, Juliette A. Southard created what we now know as the American Dental Assistants Association. We’ve come a long way since those humble beginnings, when Ms. Southard struggled to break professional barriers. She petitioned to receive permission for herself and Jessie Ellsworth, who was president of the Chicago and Cook County Dental Assistants Association, to attend the 1923 American Dental Association convention in Cleveland.
Continuing Education – This has always been and will continue to be a cornerstone of the ADAA because:
• The ADAA offers over 70 courses in almost every discipline of dentistry for dental assistants at a free or reduced rate for members.
• The ADAA provides state-specific education and testing for some states.
• By keeping current with continuing education courses or programs, whether required of you by credential, state regulation, or employer requirements, you elevate not only yourself but your profession as well.
• There are scholarships and awards for both student members and full dues paying members who want to increase or enhance their dental assisting education.
Liability Insurance – You may ask yourself why this is important. In every facet of medical/dental treatment, you are liable for the proper treatment of your patients, but:
• Most dentists’ liability insurance covers the practice as a whole and the doctors specifically, but does not cover dental assistants specifically should they be named in a complaint, unless the doctor has additional coverage for the dental assistants.
• Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and it is your responsibility to make sure that the procedures that you are performing are legal for you to perform, and that you possess the proper training and education to carry out the procedures according to your state’s dental practice act.
• Membership in the ADAA includes $50,000 worth of personal liability insurance in your name.
Accidental death and dismemberment insurance is included in your active member and student member dues.
Resources – Where can you go for state specific information, news on current events in dentistry, or links to other dental organizations? The ADAA website offers comprehensive online resources, including:
• Links to affiliate organizations, state dental boards, and active state dental assisting associations.
• Information regarding issues with infection control in the dental practice, legislative actions, and upcoming events and programs.
• State and local ADAA components in many areas of the country.
Speakers – Are you a speaker or are you looking for a speaker for your event? ADAA offers the ADAA Speakers Bureau.
• If you are a speaker or presenter on a dental-related topic and are an active member of the ADAA, you may join our Speaker’s Network Directory.
• If you are looking for a speaker, our ADAA member speakers have unique messages relevant to dental assistants across the country. They offer perspectives shaped by years of professional experience from the trenches as clinical and business assistants in dental practices.
Fellowship and mastership programs offer opportunities for further recognition of your achievements.
Personal requirements can often be met with the ADAA credit card and affinity program, prescription drug discount plan, OfficeMax discount plan, and hotel and car rental plans.
The opportunities are endless for professional dental assistants, but it takes your involvement as well. This is not our grandmother’s association anymore. To borrow from our SADAA (Student Dental Assistants Association) chapters – “Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future” – we have an opportunity to change the face of our organization, but it requires people and commitment to see it through.
Instead of looking only at what the American Dental Assistants Association can do for you, what can you do for your professional organization? What talents do you possess that you can share to help change the shape of the dental assisting profession? In order to see the change we want and need in our profession, we need to step up and be the change.
If you’re not a member, I encourage you to see the possibilities offered by membership in the ADAA. If you are a member but are not actively involved, look for ways to become more active on your local and state levels. If you were a member but have let your membership lapse, please come back, we need you. My dream is that the ADAA and the profession of dental assisting will grow and strengthen, but it takes people to make that dream a reality.
Lori Paschall, CDA, CPFDA, CRFDA, FADAA, is the 2013-2014 president of the American Dental Assistants Association.