This year, Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW) is held March 7-13, as designated by the American Dental Assistants Association. DARW is an opportunity to highlight just how valuable dental assistants are to their teams and patients. This has been even truer lately, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At DANB and the DALE Foundation, we have always known that dental assistants are essential to the operation of the dental office and to the successful, safe delivery of patient care. Thus, we believe DARW is essential as well — and especially since dental assistants sometimes feel they don’t always receive the acknowledgement they deserve.
In fact, we have heard this feedback directly from some dental assistants.
“We are the workhorses of the office, but sometimes feel underappreciated for the all the hard work we put in,” says Ana, CDA, CRFDA. “It’s nice to hear and feel that we are truly important and appreciated — so this is why Dental Assistants Recognition Week is important.”
“So often, we are overlooked,” agrees Carol, CDA. “But the assistant is very much a vital part of the dental team. Recognizing dental assistants is important every day, not just one week per year.”
We agree: Dental assistants deserve recognition year-round, and DARW brings much-needed attention to this fact. Below, we highlight three other key reasons why DARW is important.
DARW raises awareness about the dental assisting profession.
Dental assistants know and do a lot, with many reporting taking on more duties in the dental office since spring 2020. But it’s likely that not everyone knows the extent of a dental assistant’s busy day. Enter DARW, which annually spotlights the breadth of a dental assistant’s responsibilities, plus their extensive knowledge and skill sets. Many dental assistants have completed formal dental assistant education programs, or they might be trained on the job, learning from the dentist and their colleagues.
Many dental assistants also choose to further their career by earning and maintaining DANB certification, and many, DANB-certified or not, also complete continuing education such as those options available online through the DALE Foundation. Dental assistants are lifelong learners, acquiring their knowledge, skills and abilities through all types of education and training opportunities.
Additionally, some dental assistants may perform expanded functions duties if delegated by their employer dentists, as their states allow, or may perform infection control duties, front desk duties, and more. The sky is the limit for those dental assistants who are motivated to grow professionally, and they deserve recognition.
“So many people do not understand our role in dentistry — and this is why Dental Assistants Recognition Week is important,” agrees Angela.
“The dental assistant profession itself tends to be overlooked, both in the dental community and in the overall health community,” adds Meghan, CDA. “Giving dental assistants recognition, even if only for a week, brings awareness to the profession and the professionals who are in it.”
DARW highlights dental assistants’ valuable contributions.
It’s true: Dental assistants make valuable contributions to the dental office, in many ways. And perhaps the most critical way is through helping patients access dentist-recommended treatment. Dental assistants do this by way of comforting, educating and staying with patients throughout their appointment, until their patients are ready to leave the office smiling and grateful.
When dental assistants comment on the importance of DARW, the patient-care factor rises to the top as a main reason to celebrate themselves and their dental assistant colleagues. Agrees Brittany: “Dental assistants often help make patients’ experiences so much better.”
And of course, dental assistants’ role in keeping patients and providers safe deserves recognition beyond measure — especially in light of recent COVID-19 exposure concerns.
“Dental assistants are important to the patient-care process of communication and infection control,” insists Jill, CPFDA, CRFDA. “Keep it up, everyone!”
DARW acknowledges the importance of dental assistants.
Most would probably agree that achieving successful patient-care outcomes in the dental office is the result of tightknit dental teams working toward a common goal: helping others to improve their health. And we know the dental assistant has a pivotal role on the dental team. Beyond providing patient care and often having a hand in keeping the team and patients safe, dental assistants also can be counted on to keep the team on task and help maintain an overall positive rapport in the office.
Katherine, CDA, can speak to the value of the dental assistant to the entire dental team: “I believe that dental assistants are the heart of any dental clinic. Without the dental assistant, everything would not be done in order and on time.”
“Dental assistants do so much to keep a dental practice moving forward,” adds Kathy, CDA. “Our dental teams can’t do it without us!”
Why do you think DARW is important? Contact us.