Dental Assistants Recognition Week (DARW), held every year during the first full week of March, is a special time to celebrate the important role that dental assistants play. During this week, many dental teams set aside time to mark the occasion together. There are several simple but meaningful ways to honor the dental assistants in your life — both as a dental team and on your own.
CELEBRATE AS A TEAM
Sharing sweet treats
One of the most popular ways dental teams celebrate DARW is by going out for a special meal or bringing food and desserts into the office to share. From cake and cookie spreads to pizza outings and in-office potlucks, dental assistants definitely look forward to spending this sweet time with their co-workers!
“I have an awesome boss,” says Verita N., CDA. “We usually celebrate with lunch for the entire week. We also get a token of appreciation, along with chocolate strawberries.”
Exchanging small gifts and notes
This time of year, it’s not uncommon for dental assistants to receive small gifts and thank-you notes from their employers, dental teammates, fellow dental assistants and patients. We’ve heard dental assistants especially appreciate receiving gift cards or a personalized note handwritten with care. These tokens of appreciation are sure to make anyone — and especially a dental assistant — smile!
“I always look forward to giving my co-workers cards to let them know how much I appreciate them and their hard work,” says Laura F., CDA. “I know some great assistants!”
Spreading the word on social media
Many dental practices share their celebrations and extend their acknowledgments through social media, either through their own pages or through the dental practice’s social media pages.
Celine W., CDA, says the dental practice where she works takes a lot of photos of the DARW celebrations. “We share our photos on the office’s Facebook page, and I also post them to my own page,” she notes.
Lisa N., CDA, also turns to social media. “I usually put up a poster in our staff lounge and tell the assistants I work with how much I appreciate them,” she says. “Also, we post on social media to help get the word out about the importance of DARW.”
CELEBRATE ON YOUR OWN
Whether your dental practice celebrates DARW or not, you can always consider planning your own DARW festivities at home!
Dental assistants are busy professionals with a lot to do in a day, so it can feel like a treat to head to your favorite restaurant for lunch or dinner.
Veronica S., CDA, feels hungry just thinking about her planned DARW celebration: “enjoying food and a beverage at my favorite Mexican restaurant!”
Kimberly M., CDA, also has plans to go to dinner with her daughter, who is in dental assisting school. “We are excited to celebrate together!” she says.
Spending quality time
Dental assistants might also observe DARW by carving out time to spend with their loved ones.
Veronica M. looks forward to relaxing with family during DARW. “I’ve planned to take a paid week off with my husband, whom I’ve been married to for 35 years,” she says. “I always cannot wait to get home from work to see him.”
Kate G., CDA, says she is looking forward to connecting with her friends and colleagues. “I’m planning a get-together with all my dental assistant friends,” she says.
Other dental assistants, like Twila M., CDA, might not observe DARW together with their team, or even receive recognition at work. So they make sure to treat themselves outside of the office. “We do not celebrate in our office; however, I buy myself a special treat or flowers,” Twila shares.
Kinda D., CDA, is planning to book a massage for herself. “It’s a nice way to relax, especially this time of year,” she says.
Writing thank-you notes
It’s common for dental assistants to receive thank-you notes during DARW. But this week might also be an ideal time for assistants to put pen to paper themselves and write appreciation cards for their colleagues, mentors or even patients. Dental assistants know how great it feels to be recognized.
“In the past, I’ve handed out thank-you cards to my patients for allowing me to be their assistant,” says Terilynn J., CDA. “I appreciate patients. I once had a patient tell me I’m the most compassionate assistant they’ve ever had, in front of my doctor. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this recognition. It made me feel like what I do is even more worthwhile. Now, I don’t hesitate to say thank you to those who have similarly impacted me.”
DARW also provides an opportunity to write your own “year in review,” taking time to reflect on the good you have done for patients and teammates and what you have learned along the way. This “journal entry” can be saved and reviewed — and savored! — annually. Think of it as a thank-you note to yourself!