Nearly 350 orthodontic staff members employed by members of the AAO have successfully completed the AAO Voluntary Certification Program®.

Dr. Spencer Pope of Flossmoor, Illinois recently held a “pinning” ceremony for members of his staff who became certified. Pictured with Dr. Pope (at right) at the ceremony are (from left):  Dr. Pope’s partner, Dr. Anthony Maolini, and newly certified assistants Christine Henn and Angelina Caprio.

My assistants are reinvigorated and enthusiastic about orthodontics, which carries over to their care of the patients, creating a wonderful work environment and experience for the patients,” said Dr. Pope, who serves on the AAO Council on Orthodontic Practice. “I believe that the certification program helps the entire specialty of orthodontics by setting a standard to which we should all aspire.”

As a specialized agency, AAO Services, Inc. grants the AAO Voluntary Certification Program® for the orthodontic clinical assistant who demonstrates a high level of knowledge and proficiency. Staff members who meet the requirements of the program will be recognized for their knowledge and experience by the designation Specialized Orthodontic Assistant® (SOA).

Requirements for Certification

The certification program requires that the applicant pass an exam, and document CPR certification and additional qualifications. An exam handbook that is available to candidates provides 18 sample exam questions.

Once achieved, certification is valid for 36 months. The renewal process includes continuing education requirements and current CPR certification.

The AAO initiated the certification program in 2010 as one of several methods of assisting members concerned about staff training and development. Membership needs assessment surveys over a period of several years indicated a clear desire on the part of members for the AAO to assist with staff training, staff recruitment and staff retention.

Doctors and certified staff members have observed a variety of positive results of participation in the certfication program, including:

  • Motivation of staff members to continue their learning about orthodontics on an ongoing basis and to deepen their understanding of the treatment process;
  • Increased self-confidence in responding to patient questions;
  • Positive responses from patients upon viewing the staff members’ SOA certificates.

Learn More about the AAO Voluntary Certification Program®
View a Feature Article on the Certification Program and Other AAO Orthodontic Staff Development Initiatives in The Bulletin