What to Consider in Choosing a Dental Assisting Program
Are you considering a career as a dental assistant, but you've seen a lot of different dental assisting programs and dental assisting schools out there and you're not sure of what is best for you? That's understandable, there are lots of options.
Keep reading and hopefully we'll be able to clear up some of those doubts.
Short Program or Long Program?
There are a number of dental assisting programs out there that last around 13 to 15 weeks, and then there are others that last 10 months or longer. They also vary greatly in price from program to program. So what's the deal?
Well the first thing you need to understand is the difference between a DA I and DA II certifications. Any of the shorter programs that you come across are going to be DA I programs and most likely any program that lasts 9 or 10 months is going to be a DA II program.
With the exception of coronal polishing, a DA I can perform all of the tasks and duties that a DA II can perform under the supervision of a dentist. Take a look here for more information on DA I and DA II classifications.
The other thing to know is that after you graduate from a dental assisting program with a DA I certificate and then work for 3,000 hours (roughly 2 years on the job), you are automatically a DA II. This typically means an increase in pay and of course increases your marketability if you are on the hunt for a new job.
Of course it would be nice to come right of school with a DA II certificate, and many people take this route, but you have to weigh the options. Are you willing and/or able to put your life on hold for 9 or 10 months to go to school full-time in order to make that happen? Or is a dental assisting program that lasts 13-15 weeks and that will allow you the flexibility to continue working your current job and then quickly begin working as a dental assistant more suited to where you are in life?
Regardless of whether you choose a long or short dental assisting program, it is absolutely essential that you seek a program that offers quality instruction from an experienced and caring teacher. This will truly make or break the experience for you.
Find out who your instructor will be. Find out their track record. Look at reviews online. Seek out an instructor who will do their best to get to know you as a person, your strengths and weaknesses, your personality, etc. Seek out an instructor who will care about you and your future success, not just someone who is trying to get you in and get you out the door.
This is of real importance if you are serious about learning and also if you are serious about finding the job that is right for you.
Remember, often times your instructor is the one who you will want to ask for a reference when you are looking for a job. You will want him/her to know you as a person. This is also very important because your instructor will also most likely have connections in the field and, if they know you well, will be able to make suggestions and recommendations about what dental practice you are best suited for.
So find an experienced instructor who will make learning fun and personal, and find and instructor who cares about people.
Stay tuned for more ideas and pointers!