In 1988, I became a member of the Alliance of the Wisconsin Dental Association (AWDA). I was the mother of two children under the age of 5 and working part-time in our dental office. I didn’t need another thing to do, but the AWDA filled a void I didn’t know I had. While the AWDA was an organization for all dental spouses, at that time most of the spouses were female and those women became dear and precious friends and mentors. Almost all those women worked in the dental office in one form or another – as hygienists, office managers, CFOs. Membership in the AWDA validated working with the dentist spouse – after all, “no one cares more about the dental office than the spouse!”
We attended meetings at conferences and conventions throughout Wisconsin and the United States where were learned valuable organizational skills on how to run a business, how to recognize and appreciate different personalities (ESFP anyone?), how to support the dental profession. And, we had lots of fun too! We carted those Sparkly books all over the U.S. and sold tooth and toothbrush shaped pins. We donated the profits from those sales to the WDA Foundation. Carol Scheder developed the first Legislative Day that is still held today and now includes MUSoD students. We organized smile contests at the Wisconsin State Fair. We gave smokeless tobacco presentations. We held poster contests. We provided School Districts with extra-large storage containers filled with dental health materials that teachers used to talk about dental health. We were able to promote dentistry and dental health without promoting a specific office. We advocated for the dental profession. We bought long term care insurance after a discussion with a dental spouse. The networking the AWDA provided was invaluable.
The AWDA taught me skills that changed my life. While the AWDA, disbanded in 2001, the Alliance of the American Dental Association still exists. I am proud to still be a member.