The Board of Trustees of the American Dental Assistants Association must respond to both the editorial by Mark Hartley and the article by Kent Davies (September 1996 RDH). In stating that dental assistants lack the intense professional training as hygienists and dentists, Mr. Hartley overlooks the almost 32,000 professionally certified dental assistants and more than the 170,000 experienced, credentialed, and registered dental assistants throughout the United States.
Mr. Davies` article then attempts to offer guidance in identifying and correcting employee concerns. Davies has not observed the dental field thoroughly, nor is he familiar with typical dental office protocol.
Research shows that assistants provide patient education, assist the doctor clinically, are primarily purchasing agents, and administer the practice, which often includes hiring the hygienist. The reality is that, in few instances, does the hygienist hire, supervise, or critique the assistant.
Further, we take tissue with Mr. Davies` use of the term, "subordinate." Team members are not subordinate to one another, but interact with each other`s ability to deliver quality patient care.
A well-run practice is every team member`s concern. However, Mr. Davies has not represented an accurate picture of today`s typical dental office.
Roberta J. Worm, CDA
President, American Dental Assistants Association and the ADAA Board of Trustees
Editor`s Note: At RDH`s request, Mr. Davies examined methods for effectively offering constructive criticism in the hygiene operatory. He did not address `constructive criticism` of dental assistants in the restorative operatory or front desk.