Beginning GDA’s Expanded Duties Program

Dr. Joe Hair remembers the course's founder.

There had always been a loose rule regarding the procedures that could be performed by an auxiliary: If it’s reversible, it can be delegated. The problem came in the interpretation of reversible procedures. In the late ‘80s, the Board of Dentistry set a very firm rule, or a laundry list of specifically which procedures were acceptable to delegate and which were not.

Many folks felt this strict limitation would decrease job satisfaction of auxiliaries, and we would lose many talented individuals if they were only allowed to suck spit and clean rooms. Not to mention that fees would increase if the dentist had to perform every function and could not delegate. Jim Bob Williamson knew that we had talented auxiliaries who had much to contribute to our profession in Georgia.

dr jim bob williamson“As I understand it, Jim Bob was a committee of one who worked through the GDA and with the Georgia Board of Dentistry to develop the ‘Expanded Duties for Dental Assistants’ courses for the GDA.”

I met Jim Bob at a Cobb County Dental Society meeting in the early ‘80s. He was the speaker and I was a baby-dentist: I had been out of dental school for barely a year. In his presentation, he talked about several things I had heard of, but knew very little. In closing, he offered an invitation to anyone who wanted to know more. During the cocktail hour that followed his presentation, I made my way over.

“Excuse me Dr. Williamson, were you serious about folks coming to visit your office?” I asked.

Without hesitation, he shook my hand and told me that my entire team and I were welcome any day of the week. The only thing I had to do was to call Susan and tell her what procedures we wanted to see, and she would schedule them for us on the day of our choosing. We learned a lot that day.

As I understand it, Jim Bob was a committee of one who worked through the GDA and with the Georgia Board of Dentistry to develop the “Expanded Duties for Dental Assistants” courses for the GDA. These courses meet the criteria set forth by the Georgia Board of Dentistry to educate auxiliaries to become Expanded Duties Dental Assistants. The Expanded Duties Dental Assistant is allowed to perform a variety of functions approved by the Board. Having these Expanded Duties increases the job satisfaction of the auxiliary, allows that auxiliary to become an additional provider in the practice, and helps to hold fees down for those procedures.

When I found out that Jim Bob was travelling the entire state by himself to teach these courses, I called and told him he needed help. I had to badger him about it, and reluctantly, he agreed to trust me with his “baby” and allowed me to cover the southern half of the state in 1991.

In 1999 or 2000, Jim Bob was promoted to a position with the ADA. This new position would require that he give up teaching the Expanded Duties courses and turn it over entirely to someone else. He called and asked if I was up to the task. He warned me that there was a lot of work behind the scenes that folks did not see or appreciate. I was honored that he would consider me capable of continuing a program that was so near and dear to his heart.

However, I had one concern. When you deal with a bunch of dentists, you can rest assured that at least one is unhappy about something, and the committee chairman (now liaison) will have to make a decision that will probably not please everyone.

Jim Bob said that regardless of the type decision, just do what’s right, and everyone will leave you alone. Your program will continue to run like clockwork.

I have taught the Expanded Duties Courses since 1991, and I have been the committee chair/liaison since 2000. I have worked hard to keep Jim Bob’s vision true to its original intent. Whenever controversy, concern, question, or potential change to the program has come up, the answer has always been the same:

Do What’s Right

GDA's Expanded Duties Courses are offered six times each year. 

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dr joe hairMeet Dr. Joe Hair
Joe Hair was born and raised in Fitzgerald, Georgia. He graduated from Fitzgerald High School and was voted “Mr. FHS” by his classmates. He attended Valdosta State College where he served as the Chief Justice of the Student Judicial Committee. He then attended the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry and graduated in 1982.

Dr. Hair has served as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry (now Augusta University Dental College of Georgia) since 1985. He holds a Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry as well as a Fellowship from the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

Dr. Hair is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine as well as the Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines. He has been a special lecturer at regional and national dental meetings including The Hinman Dental Meeting, The Yankee Dental Congress, The California Dental Association and the American Dental Association.

This December will be the 40th anniversary of marriage to his high school sweetheart, Diana. Diana and Joe Hair have 2 adult children, Joanna and Jackson.