Passionate. Dedicated. Hardworking. These are just a few terms that could describe dental assistants. Day in and day out, they demonstrate their commitment to patients, colleagues, and the profession by managing a long list of responsibilities, often behind the scenes. For many, dental assisting is a career — not just a job.
But this dedication to the profession goes beyond everyday duties in the office. Dental assistants strive to continually improve their knowledge and abilities so they can give their very best effort to their patients and teammates. Here are just a few ways they’re committed to the profession.
There are many reasons for dental assistants to pursue DANB certification. Becoming certified doesn’t happen overnight — it requires hard work outside of business hours. For example, becoming a Certified Dental Assistant requires passing three exams as well as graduating from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program or working at least 3,500 hours as a dental assistant.
Becoming certified requires dedication, and it shows patients, colleagues, and employers that dental assistants are serious about their work.
“Certified Dental Assistants spend so much time in school,” shares Jerrica. “Our program was two years long if you count the prerequisites, with over a year of strictly dental education.”
She adds: “I think there’s a perception that we don’t do as much as we do or our job is easy. It’s a hard job, and nobody wants to work a hard job and never feel appreciated. I think a recognition week is great because it provides an awesome opportunity for employers to shine a light on their assistants.”
Pursuing continuing education
Whether a dental assistant gets trained on the job or graduates from a dental assisting program, learning never stops. Dental assistants continually build on their knowledge to stay on top of new developments in technology, infection control, and other areas of dentistry. Continuing education is a requirement to maintain certification, but many dental assistants pursue it so they can provide better care to patients, contribute more to their practices, and grow their careers.
“We are always willing to learn and educate ourselves to make the office run smoothly for everyone,” says Jan.
“I encourage all dental assistants to continue their education, even if it’s one class at a time,” says Jennifer, a clinic supervisor. “There is always something to learn.”
Some dental assistants demonstrate their commitment to the profession by becoming members of professional associations, such as the American Dental Assistants Association. Not only do associations provide additional education opportunities, but they also give dental assistants an avenue to further develop their careers, expand their network, and advocate for the future of the profession.
“Dental assistants are dedicated and passionate professionals who take great pride and care in their work,” says Nicole.
Some dental assistants are so passionate about their careers that they spend their free time giving back to their communities. They may help by volunteering at community dental clinics, teaching or speaking at dental assisting programs, or even traveling to other states or countries to provide dental care to those without access to it.
“The best thing about being a dental assistant is the service you can provide to the community,” says Aslín.
“I love helping those most in need,” shares Itzel.