For DALE Foundation Trustee Carol K. Oeder, CDA, COA, CPFDA, CRFDA, CDPMA, FADAA, LPN, of Hiawassee, Georgia, earning DANB certification has been the key to growing her career and confidence.

Here, Carol discusses her rewarding career, as well as the importance of earning certification and pursuing education in order to best serve patients and make a difference.

DANB: Why did you choose to become DANB certified?

Carol Oeder: I started working as an on-the-job-trained dental assistant in the early 1960s in Big Rapids, Michigan. The first doctor I ever worked for, Dr. Y. O. Morris, was a mentor for me. He really encouraged me to be active in the American Dental Assistants Association. He encouraged education. He took me to dental meetings, where he would say, “If all you learned is one thing, the meeting was worth it.”

When I heard about DANB certification, I knew I had to take advantage of that opportunity. I always wanted to stay updated and current and get the credentials that would give myself the confidence, my doctor the confidence and most of all the patients the confidence they were getting the best care possible, and that could be achieved through DANB certification.

I earned DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant certification in 1980 and then went on to earn four additional DANB certifications.

What are the benefits of DANB certification?

DANB certification builds self-confidence and demonstrates that confidence to the doctor and to our patients. It enables us to give the patients the best possible, educated care.

I liken dental assistants to athletes. If you’re playing a sport, you better know the game. The same is true for dental assisting — when you’re sitting across from an educated, experienced doctor, you better be educated and prepared as well. You’ve got to step it up, because the doctor is depending on you.

You’ve held many roles in your career, including chairside dental assistant, dental assisting instructor and compliance specialist. Additionally, you’ve been a traveling dental assistant, visiting U.S. military bases, and organized mission trips to Haiti. What stands out as your most rewarding experience?

I always enjoyed chairside assisting. Additionally, my teaching experience at Goodwill Industries, working with students with barriers to employment, always stands out. Periodically, I hear from students whom I’ve worked with, and many of them are still working in dentistry and doing extremely well. Hearing from them is always a highlight.

Also, working as a compliance specialist and making a safer workplace was extremely rewarding.

What was the most rewarding part of your Haiti experience?

Knowing that we made a difference. We ultimately established a clinic in an orphanage in the mountains. When I did volunteer work in Haiti, I remember taking care of patients and thinking they deserve to have good care. That’s what inspired me to go on to nursing school at Milwaukee [Wisconsin] Area Technical College, which I graduated from in 1998. Throughout my career, I always strove to improve my skills and gain knowledge in order to provide the best care to patients.

You’re a DALE Foundation Trustee, and you’re a past Vice Chair of the DANB Board of Directors. What has been the best part of being involved on the Boards?

Knowing that I have a voice for all dental assistants. That is important to me — having a voice. I speak for all the assistants out there, not just for me. For the assistants.

What motivates you to go the extra mile in your career?

Knowing that the patients are receiving the best possible care, and then, of course, my family.

What advice would you give to dental assistants?

Attend meetings, get involved and understand that networking is absolutely critical. There are a lot of opportunities out there for dental assistants, but you have to reach out for them. They’re not just going to come to you.

Another key thing is to know you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking a DANB exam. You may not pass it the first time, but you can learn from that experience and try again.


CDA Certificants, Share Your Story!

2018 marks the 70th year of CDA certification. In honor of this 70-year milestone, DANB is spotlighting certificants who can speak to the value of DANB certification.

Have you earned DANB certification? How has DANB certification impacted your career? Send your story to