Dental assistants provide that essential extra pair of hands that dentists and other dental health professionals need when performing dental procedures on their patients. Aside from working with patients on the dental chair, they also administer the daily operations of the dental office and ensure the logistics and inventory of dental equipment and supply are sterile, safe and functional. Quite a lot on their hands but this career has been forecasted by the Bureau of Labour Statistic to remain in demand up to 2022. This has cause a lot of aspirants to look for dental assistant schools that can provide them with the right training and exposure to get jobs as dental assistants.
With its very basic requirement of a high school diploma or a GED equivalent, anyone can go to dental assistant schools. So if you’ve finally decided to pursue a career in dentistry and would like to shortlist the best dental assistant schools you can get into, there are some things that you should keep in mind before processing your admission papers.
- Accreditation. The most important factor that you should keep in mind when looking for dental assistant schools is to make sure they are recognised by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) to offer programs for dental assisting. Accredited training courses ensure that after you’ve finished with the course, you can take the DANB exams to get your certification and that all the topics you will ever encounter during the evaluation will be extensively covered throughout the whole duration of the program.
- Location. Each state has a specific set of requirements for their dental assistants’ practice. As tempting as it is to get enrolled in an affordable online school outside the state where you intend to practice, you’ll probably end up wasting money as the program the latter will offer might not be enough for the state to recognise your training and eligibility to practice.
- Affordability. How much will you be willing to shell out for the whole course? Some students who get enrolled in dental assistant schools are funded by grants and scholarships. Make sure you check out how much you’ll need to shell out in tuition and other fees before you finally make your decision to enrol in that school because it is an investment in the long run.
- Substance. Browse through the subjects that will be covered during the training. It should be able to familiarise you with the three types of duties expected of dental assistants on the job: clinical, laboratory and administrative. Does it also offer an externship at a reputable oral care clinic or would you have to find your own? You should be able to practise your skills in a modern laboratory and get hands on learning from your instructor as much as you can.
- Schedule. Many students enrolled in dental assistant schools are either doing an online crash course or take up weekend or night classes because they have to work in between. Estimate how much time you’d be willing to free up for studying this new career path and see if it does not conflict to the training program’s set schedule. Would you rather go for an accelerated class in a couple of weeks or you’d rather earn your associate degree in your own sweet time?
Search for dental assistant schools online and too many of them offering shorter courses in dental assistance with lower tuition fees, study at your own pace, comprehensive curriculum. According to a forum discussion in Indeed.com, short courses are a great way to learn the basics but it won’t necessarily land you a job because most states prefer their dental assistants to be DANB certified. Participants in the discussion also lauded the value of externships and hands-on training. Others have also advised to scour dental offices first and find out which school their dental assistants come from and start from there.
Dental assistant schools help prepare students for their career in dental assistance which gives them an added edge from those who learned the ropes on the job. They cover the basics of what is expected from you as a dental assistant, make sure you are prepared for getting that dental assistant certification to get your career started, and help you score your first job as a dental assistant. Aside from the factors mentioned above, check out the school’s reputation among dental professionals in your area and research on the type of services they offer their students. If it all checks out, get ready to enrol as a dental assistant.