If you are searching for an excellent career which will provide you with virtually guaranteed employment, great pay, and excellent vacation and medical benefits, then the position of dental assistant may well be worth looking into.
Receiving the proper training and accreditation is an extremely important step toward embarking on a richly rewarding career. This article will give a brief overview of the educational opportunities that are available for training in this rapidly growing career path.
What Exactly Does A Dental Assistant Do?
A dental assistant is a person who helps the dentist during procedures by handing them instruments, x-rays, and the like. Interaction with the dentist in charge of the procedure is a huge part of the job.
Assistants will also help to keep and maintain the medical and billing records of patients. They may answer phones, schedule new appointments, and clean and store all of the instruments that the dentist uses during an operation.
In addition, an assistant also deals with patients, maintaining a bedside manner that “takes the edge off” the visit for those who may be nervous or anxious about having to see the dentist and undergo a procedure.
Dental Assistant Schools
One of the major positives of attending the various types of dental assistant schools is the fact that you won’t be required to spend a massive amount of time or money to get the training you require. Most dental assistant programs will last from nine to eleven months, and access to grants and loans is fairly easy and simple to arrange.
What Type Of Dental Assistant Schools Are Available?
There is a very wide variety of choices available. For example, most universities and community colleges will offer special training programs. There are also a number of specialized dental assistant schools where people can go to receive the requisite training and certification for the job.
Some institutions will offer accelerated training programs, while others will be able to offer part-time education programs that are fitted to the special needs of single parents, people employed in full time day jobs, etc.
It is very important that you obtain the correct certification in order to be allowed to work as a dental assistant. There are currently over 270 different programs at various locations which are officially accredited by the CODA (Committee On Dental Accreditation).
To get the ultimate certification, students enrolled in one of these programs will need to pass the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination. This exam is administered by the DANB (Dental Assisting National Board), and its verdict is final.
Once you have received the proper certification, you will be able to embark upon a career as a dental assistant. This is your passport to a lifetime of quality employment in this field.
Not All Programs Offer Certification:
When choosing the training institution or program that you wish to attend, it is important to note that not every one of these will offer certification. If you choose a school or program which does not offer this extremely important step, it will your responsibility to contact the DANB in your state in order to arrange to take the CDA exam.
What Type Of Degree Is Needed?
Besides the certification which is provided by attending a CODA accredited institution, there is no specific type of college or university degree that is required for this career.
There are a number of courses which can be considered by prospective students as prerequisites for entering a dental assistant program. For example, most institutions will recommend that a student consider taking classes in basic psychology, computer literacy, and human communication. Courses in human anatomy, basic chemistry, and biology may also prove to be helpful.
The exact number of required prerequisites (if any) will depend on the institution or program that you attend, as well as the state you are studying in.
Special Dental Assistant Training Programs For Military Spouses
If you are the spouse of an active member of the United States military, you may be eligible to receive special assistance for your tuition and training as a dental assistant.
Several universities across the country are offering special programs in conjunction with the United States military, which are known as Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA).
In addition, the military has also partnered with the American Red Cross in order to offer specialized dental assistant training programs at select military bases in such locations as diverse as bases in South Korea and Arizona.
The program is being introduced largely at Air Force bases (such as Luke Air Force base in Arizona), but will eventually be open to more and more spouses of active service members in all branches of the military.
On The Job Training May Be Available
In some cases, on the job training may be available. Working with a dentist or assistant in a private office may provide the individual with intimate knowledge on most of the day to day activities that take place in an office, as well as how to handle, clean, and store the various instruments that are used.
However, even after receiving on the job training, an individual will still need to take the CDA exam in order to be properly certified in this position.
Prerequisites For Taking The CDA Exam
In order to take the CDA exam, you will need to have recently graduated from a fully CODA accredited program or institution. If you have been working in an on the job training environment, you must have recently completed the necessary amount of hours in that capacity. The exact number of hours required in such a situation will vary from state to state.
Recently, an additional stipulation for certification has been added. Individuals seeking to take the CDA exam must complete a course of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and be fully certified in this area.
Licensing For Specific Tasks
In some states, assistants will be required to be licensed by the DANB in order to perform specific tasks. This special licensing will cover various sorts of tasks, and will vary by state. It is an excellent idea to contact your local State Board of Dentistry in order to be informed as to whether additional licensing for certain tasks is required.
How To Pick The Right School For Your Needs
The number one consideration for anyone thinking about attending school for the purpose of becoming a dental assistant should be whether or not that school or program is officially accredited by the CODA. Without this official accreditation, no one can become officially licensed for this career.
Of course, as noted above, there are schools which offer the training, but not the certification, for this career. In this case, it is important to ask yourself whether or not it will be worth it to undergo the training while still having to arrange to take the CDA independently.
Other Important Factors To Consider
Prospective assistants should also consider other factors. For example, is it easy to secure grants and loans for an education in this career? And are credits received in one institution transferable to another one? This will always be the case if the program is properly accredited by the CODA.