We know dental assistants are some of the hardest workers in the dental office. We also know that dental assistants sometimes feel like their role and contributions are not fully appreciated.
But not during Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW), when dental assistants are rightfully in the spotlight. This year, DARW is celebrated March 3-9. Most dental assistants are grateful for this week that’s all about professional recognition. “I need DARW,” one assistant told us.
Here, dental assistants discuss why they feel DARW is needed and why it means so much to them. Read some of their reasons below.
Highlighting Your Hard Work
Dental assisting can be a rewarding but also fast-paced and demanding job. Whether it’s setting up the exam room, welcoming and seating patients, assisting the dentist and reassuring patients during a procedure, or sterilizing the instruments — you’d probably agree that dental assistants are busy professionals. And this is often just the beginning of all that you do each day.
DARW shines a light on all your hard work. This national recognition can be much appreciated, especially by those dental assistants who feel their efforts go unnoticed within the dental practice that employs them.
“It means a lot to know that we as assistants are being recognized for the hard work we put in physically and mentally,” shares Irvin M.
Recognizing Your Significant Value
Dental assistants are extremely valuable dental team members. You regularly make positive, significant contributions to the dental office. For example, you play a vital role in the productivity and efficiency of the dental practice, according to the results of the DALE Foundation’s research on the Value of Dental Assistants to the Dental Practice.
DARW is a time to consider all your significant contributions and what you bring to the team, practice and patients.
“Being recognized as an important part of the dental healthcare team means a lot,” says Debbie R., CDA. “During DARW, we receive genuine respect and are seen as a peer professional.”
Building Camaraderie Among Assistants
Dental assistants say that one of the best parts of their careers is collaborating with likeminded dental assistant colleagues.
DARW is a time for dental assistants to celebrate one another and reinforce their career choice and the impact they make every day. After all, dental assisting is a great profession, and you all know it! During DARW, assistants and other dental team members take the time to shower their colleagues with praise and gratitude, often with small treats and thank-you notes.
“DARW is an opportunity to show appreciation for my fellow assistants,” agrees Bobbie-Lynn A., CDA. “I plan to recognize my colleagues.”
Elevating the Entire Profession
While dental assisting is a very important role and career choice, not everyone understands exactly what you do. Some patients may confuse the assistant’s and hygienist’s roles. And some assistants hear, “Is that all you do?” or “Are you just an assistant?” This can be frustrating, as dental assistants are proud of the profession.
Additionally, in some parts of the country, there are dental assistant shortages. This may be due to a lack of knowledge about the profession, especially among high school and college students. They might not know that dental assisting is a path that could be available to those interested in working with people in a healthcare setting. DARW helps to raise awareness about the importance of the profession among the general public, including patients and prospective assistants.
“As a dental assistant educator, DARW is a week to show my students how important their career choice is, and to encourage them to stick to it and continue to reach their goals,” shares Calista S., CDA. “It means helping the community to recognize the importance of the dental assistant, and elevating the status of the dental assistant career.”
Dental assistants, what does DARW mean to you?