We know that while dental assisting is a rewarding career, it sometimes can be a challenging one. Not only do you have many tasks on your plate to juggle each day — with a multitude of patients to help care for and appointments to keep track of — but you also may feel like you don’t always receive the recognition you deserve.
It’s true: Not everyone fully understands or appreciates the important work a dental assistant does. Which is all the more reason why Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW), held the first week of March, is critical for highlighting the dental assistant’s value to their entire practice, patients and profession.
“We matter,” says Antoinette L., who works as a dental assistant. “And so does DARW.” Read on to learn some specific reasons why.
1. DARW is a special time for receiving employer recognition.
For dental assistants, feeling appreciated by their employer is one of the top factors contributing to whether or not they’re satisfied at work. Luckily, many dental assistants do feel valued by their dentist — they enjoy a satisfactory salary and schedule, as well as other key benefits such as a retirement plan, work-life balance and access to continuing education.
Even for those who already feel appreciated in the dental office, DARW brings an extra-special chance for employers to sing assistants’ praises. And many assistants look forward to learning how their efforts will be celebrated during DARW. From luncheons to team outings, dentists often organize meaningful DARW activities, as well as share cards, gifts and gratitude. What’s more, many dental office staff members tend to take their dentist’s lead and get in the DARW spirit too!
Laura R., CDA, CPFDA, CRFDA, says her dentist is appreciative of her all year, and especially during DARW. “My employer never forgets me during this special week,” she says. “But I will add that he makes sure I know that I am valued as his assistant every day.”
Learn More: Simple But Meaningful Ways to Celebrate DARW
2. It’s a reminder to the team that assistants are vital.
DARW is an annual reminder to the team that everyone appreciates feeling recognized at work. This message is especially important since dental assistants don’t always feel seen or valued by their teammates. For many, having the opportunity to hear that their day-to-day efforts don’t go unnoticed can mean the world. Ultimately, being recognized can boost assistants’ confidence and strengthen team bonds.
This DARW, Carol H., CDA, welcomes the chance to thank her dental assistant colleague. “I plan to show appreciation for my co-worker by giving a gift and sharing lunch. We work really well together.”
3. It’s a time for reflection and forward thinking.
For many, DARW is the perfect time to reflect on their career paths. Some assistants also consider their professional ambitions over the short- and long-term. “Each day of the week, I plan to write down a small goal I’d like to achieve over this next year spent working in dentistry,” says Christina C., CDA.
Goals that assistants might consider working toward include pursuing DANB certification or striving to perform more duties in the dental office as their state allows. Others might use the time to consider the history of dental assisting and what’s ahead for the profession. You might also be driven to get involved with dental assisting organizations such as the American Dental Assistants Association.
“I always enjoy talking with my co-workers about everyone’s past experiences, and the involvement they’ve had throughout their years as a dental assistant,” says Susan L., CDA. “This can be inspiring!”