We’ve heard that many of you have culinary and artistic talents, and that Thanksgiving especially can be a time for you to shine. In fact, some of you probably are already thinking about dishes to concoct for your own celebration, or those celebrations hosted by others. After all, dental assistants generally like to be prepared!

As you browse cookbooks and online recipes this holiday season, you also may want to consider your own professional “recipe” for success. This often starts with knowing what a successful dental assistant brings to the table. Below, we share our ideas on the ideal “ingredients” of standout dental assistants. Do you agree? What would you add to this recipe?


Passion for Patient Care

It’s probably well-known that assistants who are passionate about patient care are likely to go far in the dental profession. In fact, findings of the DALE Foundation’s Value of Dental Assistants to the Dental Practice research support this: Good patient care skills are among the top qualities for dental assistants to have. Dental assistants with the heart for helping patients can greatly impact patients’ overall experience — including whether they accept dentist-recommended treatment, or return to the dental practice for future care.

“Success in dental assisting takes having true experience and the desire to help people,” agrees dental assistant Patty M.


Commitment to Continuing Education

Next, successful dental assistants also demonstrate a willingness to learn (another top quality, according to research). Dental assistants who seek out continuing learning opportunities — such as those offered by the DALE Foundation — tend to make greater contributions to the practice and the patients, including in the critical area of infection control. They also are more likely to grow in their careers and be seen as leaders in the dental office.

“Pursuing continuing education takes work and sacrifice, but it’s very worth investing in myself and my career,” shares assistant Jennifer G., CDA.


Dedication to the Dental Team

Finally, research shows that being a team player and being successful go hand-in-hand. The entire dental team shines — and most importantly, the patients benefit — when dental staff maintain a positive attitude, help one another, and exchange words of encouragement and gratitude. After all, everybody wants to feel seen and supported in the dental office.

Dental assistant Diana G. echoes the importance of dental team harmony. “The only way a dental assistant can make an impact in the dental office is by working with a very appreciative doctor, as well as with a collaborative team,” she says. “It’s all about teamwork and appreciating one another.”

What’s in your recipe for success?