New strategic plan focuses on dental assistant workforce solutions

Strategic plan icons

The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and the DALE Foundation have released their 2023-2028 Strategic Plan. The plan is rooted in the importance of dental assistants, the critical role they play in delivering patient care, and enhancing the ways DANB and the DALE Foundation can support and prepare dental assistants for career entry and progression. 

“This dynamic and bold plan centers on evolving our programs, reducing barriers for current and aspiring dental assistants, and increasing access for the new generations,” said DANB and DALE Foundation CEO Laura Skarnulis. “Through our current and future work, we aim to expand the pipeline of qualified dental assistants; promote diversity, equity and inclusion; and provide dental assistants with pathways for career progression through achievable, incremental milestones.”

Strategic plan overview

The plan identifies five imperatives, which serve as a framework to address the dental assistant shortage and other critical workforce challenges.

Download the 2023-2028 DANB/DALE Foundation Strategic Plan Overview.

  • Lead with diversity, equity and inclusion to remove barriers, increase access to exams and education, and seek out collaborators with diverse perspectives and experiences.
  • Create and promote a dental assisting professional model to support recruitment and retention over the long term by providing career pathways and a road map for advancement.
  • Increase awareness of and access to education and credentialing for the profession by raising the profile of the profession and promoting the critical role of dental assistants.
  • Champion the role of the dental assistant by conducting research, forming a workforce coalition, building community, and positioning dental assisting as a meaningful career.
  • Enhance the user experience by improving our policies, procedures, technologies, and services to remove unintended barriers and meet the current and future needs of the profession.

The plan in action

To jump-start the ambitious plan, DANB and the DALE Foundation have already begun several initiatives, including establishing a DEI council, increasing investments in scholarships, adjusting exam and certification policies, and launching a Dental Assisting Curriculum Framework to support entry-level dental assistant training. 

View the DANB/DALE Foundation dental assistant workforce development resources.

“The challenges and opportunities facing the dental assisting profession won’t be solved by one organization or through isolated solutions,” Skarnulis added. “We have a bold, comprehensive vision that incorporates partnerships and collaborations with many organizations and voices. As we embark on this plan, we look forward to working with members of the dental community to support and grow the dental assisting profession.”

The collaborative process

The five-year plan was developed through a comprehensive strategic planning model that drew on input from numerous members of the dental community. Through a series of meetings with internal and external stakeholders, consensus emerged around current conditions and issues of key importance — with the dental assistant workforce and diversity, equity, inclusion and access being central themes.

DANB’s Board of Directors and the DALE Foundation’s Board of Trustees were actively involved in the plan’s development. DANB Chair Lois Bell and DALE Foundation President Guinevere Juckett played an instrumental role in shepherding the organizations through the process.

While the strategic plan is future-focused, it remains grounded in the organizations’ core values of promoting education and credentials to elevate the dental assisting profession and enhance public protection.

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