The dental assistant has a secure job that is expected to remain in high demand for decades. Before you become an assistant, know the right steps to take, and continue taking additional steps while training and after you’ve finished with the program. Here are the most important tasks to remember as you plan to become a dental assistant.
Review the Job Description
Healthcare is an evolving field with information that changes every year. Review the wide range of duties that dental assistants must fulfill, including those that you need additional training for. You may know about sterilizing instruments, but you may not be familiar with handling dental emergencies that can occur at any moment. In addition, the use of dental technology is increasing, and it’s ideal that you learn about the latest devices that are being used in dental procedures.
Enroll in an Accredited Program
Enroll in an accredited program that provides dental assistant training. Start by looking at local community colleges and technical schools. Avoid online-only schools that are not accredited and are very expensive because they may provide below-average training. Choose a school that has a history of graduating and employing thousands of dental assistants.
Undergo an Externship
Apply for an externship that is sponsored by the school or a third-party organization. An externship allows you to apply your skills in the real world. Work alongside real dentists and assistants who will answer any and all questions you have about the job. You get to see patients up close and learn about each person’s visit and experiences.
Meet State Certification or Licensing Requirements
In most states, there are requirements for dental assistants to become certified or licensed in their profession. In Texas, for example, you need to complete an approved program and complete an in-person CPR class. Californian students need to complete 11 to 15 months of work experience under a licensed dentist. Before enrolling in a program, review the full requirements in your state. Some people may enter the program and not be able to qualify to practice after completion.
Every state has different requirements for their dental assistants. You need to decide a variety of factors, such as the type of assisting you want to do, how long you need to train and in which state you plan to work. Once you get into the program, you have more research to do when choosing your internships and externships. Be prepared for this process from the start, and look forward to the benefits of having a steady career as a dental assistant.