Each year, the first full week of March is designated as Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW). This year, from March 1-7, 2020, dental teams across the country will show appreciation to the dental assistants in their offices. And for good reason: Assistants are vital contributors to the dental practice. As Ann G., CDA, says: “Dental assistants take great care to ensure patients feel important. This week helps us to feel important, too.”
But some dental office teams may not realize that DARW is in March. Or if they are aware of DARW, they may not feel that they have time to set aside to celebrate. But there are several reasons why every dental office should aim to celebrate this special week. Below are a few important things to consider.
Highlighting Dental Assistants’ Hard Work
First and foremost, setting aside time to observe DARW as a team highlights dental assistants’ hard work that may sometimes be overlooked. Unfortunately, not everyone may “get” what it takes to be a dental assistant. In fact, we sometimes hear this from dental assistants who feel underappreciated at work by their non-assistant teammates or even patients. DARW strives to shine a light on just how much a dental assistant knows and does. The ultimate purpose of the week is to elevate the entire profession, and especially the dedicated professionals who commit each day to making it exceptional.
“Being a dental assistant is everything and so much more than people know or see,” shares Christina C., CDA. “To your patients, you can be a friend, a counselor or social worker and an advocate. Dental assistants are responsible for a variety of duties, and we are always there to step in and assist the team when needed. DARW brings a chance to show everyone — including the team — how much tireless work we do and how important our position truly is.”
Boosting Morale and Building Connections
DARW is also the ideal time for dental office colleagues to share positivity and sing one another’s praises. Even those dental assistants who do feel appreciated and valued in the dental office might not always hear “thank you” as their days become busy. Inadvertently taking someone for granted when everything’s running like clockwork can be all too common an occurrence. After all, there’s typically much behind-the-scenes work driving a job well done, which assistants often make look easy. This DARW, dental teams are encouraged to truly see and thank their dental assistant colleagues for all they do. Expressing and receiving words and gestures of gratitude are sure ways to boost team morale in any office environment.
“For me, it means a lot that the doctor and staff show me that all my hard work is very much appreciated — even through a small token of appreciation like a thank-you card,” says Shannon C., CDA. “A gesture doesn’t have to be big to be meaningful.”
DARW provides an opportunity for forging connections among co-workers, too. “Special treats during DARW can be nice, but what I most look forward to is sharing my experiences with other assistants, like learning how they handle a difficult day, for example,” says Vera S., CDA.
Enjoying Well-Earned Downtime
Finally, DARW provides the perfect opportunity for dental teams to take a break. We’ve heard that dental teams, and especially the assistants, don’t always feel they have time to pause during a busy workday. This is less than ideal, as the entire team deserves downtime to recharge, especially when the workload becomes fast-paced. For those teams who carve out time for festivities, DARW can be the perfect reason to come together. Teammates enjoy sharing food, desserts, small gifts, and — most importantly — downtime and camaraderie.
“Some of us might work 12-hour shifts, with five-minute breaks, always putting our patients first,” says Melissa R., CDA. “Our jobs are far from easy. I do agree we should be recognized for a whole week, if not every day, with a well-deserved break.”
While it’s possible Melissa might celebrate DARW with her team, she adds that prioritizing self-care is in her immediate future: “I plan to appreciate my own hard work, to reflect on and be proud of my journey from where I started to where I am now. I shock myself daily with all my knowledge, and I’m so thankful to be a dental assistant!”
How will you celebrate DARW? Let us know!