‘Education, Efficiency, Loyalty and Service’ during years of active membership
The journey to the prestigious 2014 New Member Involvement Award began with my enrollment as a new member in 2012. The most significant word in this award’s title is INVOLVEMENT.
This is not an individual award…it is shared with a very large and supportive family of dental assistant sisters and brothers of the American Dental Assistants Association.
When you choose to become a member of any organization, it is up to you how you plan to actively contribute. Many choose to be content with having the membership on their resume’ and/or curriculum vitae. However, if you have a group of professionals to recognize your strengths and smart enough to encourage you to get INVOLVED, you are very blessed.
My first contact was with Karen Castleberry, Associate Professor at Chattanooga Tennessee State Community College via the Tennessee Dental Assistants Association’s Facebook page. After my acceptance as a member, I began to read and learn more about the state organization. I was invited to the Annual Fall Conference where I met President Brenda Trammel, Vice-President Leah Reynolds, Secretary Gina Conrad and Treasurer Betty Gail Fox. Mark Mattney and Elsie Henderson were also present at the meeting. The support and knowledge of these women and man, was very impressive and a humbling experience. My head hurt from all I needed to learn. But I was determined to succeed. I drove up there alone but came back home as part of a family.
Excited and ready to conquer the dental field by knocking down the obstacles to membership, I was stunned to learn so many dental professionals had not heard of their national organization, the American Dental Assistants Association. My introduction to the national office came by way of Nancy Rodriguez and Santos Robles. She was unable to attend but put a Facebook blast out to members to be on the lookout for me. I was known as the new kid on the block and they had strict orders to take care of me. I was overwhelmed…social media had my photo out there and in my New Delegates Orientation Forum, I received a huge hug and hello from Tija Hunter (received her Fellowship Award). I INVOLVED myself and offered to be a flower bouquet keeper for Kim Arny (received her Fellowship Award) and chatted at the Foundation Silent Auction table with Natalie Kaweckyi (author of several online courses completed by me AND past President of the American Dental Assistants Association). I INVOLVED myself by volunteering to hold the door for delegates and officers (making note of badge names) when we vacated the building because of a fire drill. When the all clear was given, Jena Payne (received her Mastership award), was taking photographs with the New Orleans Fire Department.
While in attendance at my first national meeting, I spoke to our 4th District Trustee, Nanette Hill. After listening to me, she said she would recommend to our President, Lori Paschall, that I receive one of the appointments on the Membership Council…INVOLVED. I never would have imagined that I would have the opportunity to rub shoulders with such high raking men and women in our organization. All were so supportive and willing to take the time to explain why things were done.
There are many ways to become INVOLVED with the national, state and local organizations. Volunteering to promote the American Dental Assistants Association via exhibit booths and conferences are one of them. Gina Conrad (received her Mastership Award), Vice President of our state association, President/Treasurer of our local society and my Fellowship mentor, “volunteered” me to accompany her to these conferences. I observed how comfortable and poised she was when speaking to the many people who stopped by the table for information. I learned how to set up the exhibit table and what questions were asked and how to confidently answer them. The doctors asked what benefit would having their dental assistants become members help them and their office. Gina smiled and provided an outstanding answer. Of the many dental assistants who stopped by, a few when asked if they were members said, “I was but I didn’t renew.” As a Council member, I asked why. The answer was disheartening; she felt after she paid her membership fee, there was no more communication from the organization. This must end. There must be a way to follow-up and stay in touch with existing members. Word of mouth is our best advertisement and therefore, we need it to be a positive one.
As an educator, I remember that teachers become really excited when students are confident enough to ask questions... I have always been a good student, so I became a sponge an absorbed as much as I could stand. After witnessing the Convocation last year, I enrolled in the Fellowship/Mastership program. INVOLVED. Listening to presentations through Forums and witnessing the business side of a 90+ year organization, I wanted to learn more. The American Dental Assistants Association Foundation intrigued me. I became INVOLVED with Cathy Roberts. By the time she was finished with me I had made a pledge and was donating monthly to the Foundation. She also encouraged me to begin writing articles for our 24/7 publications by sharing my experiences with other dental professionals…INVOLVED.
Our career as healthcare providers has always focused on INVOLVEMENT. As team members we are INVOLVED with our doctors, hygienists, front office personnel, laboratory technicians and our patients. The question you must ask yourself, what can I do to become INVOLVED with my national, state and local organization? How can I promote the importance of this organization with my peers?
It is an ever changing world. You must keep up with it or fall by the wayside. Don’t be that person. Serving and promoting optimal health is what we do. Get INVOLVED. Learn, Contribute and grow with your organization. They need you..and you need them. I am honored and extremely proud to receive the 2014 New Member INVOLVEMENT Award and will continue to promote the American Dental Assistants Association.