What are the advantages of pursuing a career as a Dental Assistant?
First, there is the advantage of job security. Findings show that this position is one of the top twenty-five fastest growing careers in the United States. According to the U.S. Labor Bureau, people who work in this field earn, on the average, an annual income of $33,470.
Second, the time it takes to acquire this type of position is minimal because you don’t have to spend large quantities of time and money taking classes at a junior college or university. As a matter of fact, there are individuals who go through on-the-job training programs which will pay them for working in a dental office while going through the training process. Some states require certification, so it is best to find out if your state falls into that category.
Third, Dental Assistants have the benefit of working in a climate-controlled professional dental office. There are some dentists who have their own office, and there are settings in which a group of dentists shares the same office space. Since these offices are usually small, and there are a handful of employees, the atmosphere is pleasant and the people, for the most part, are very friendly.
Fourth, you can develop a wide range of skills working in this position. Job duties may vary in accordance with each state’s set of regulations for this field of work. However, there are common core responsibilities that are performed by the Assistant. Below are the most common job duties.
1. Providing office assistance
These are the people who answer the phone when you call to schedule an appointment. Once you arrive at the office, you will see them situated behind the front desk doing office work. Their office duties include: signing in patients and processing paperwork such as obtaining the patient’s health information, going over HIPAA information with the patient, gathering patient insurance information, submitting billing to insurance providers, and collecting payments from patients. When you enter the office, they are usually the first person that you see. This is why the Dental Assistant is a critical member
of the Dentist’s team of employees. The Assistant sets the milieu in the office which plays a significant role in shaping the patient’s first impression of the Dentist, his practice and his office staff. Aspiring Dental Assistants should possess a working knowledge of using computers because this is where the patient information, billing data, and other essential information is stored. Assistants are the ones who call the patient’s name and escort them to the dental chair. This may seem obvious; however, it is important to remember that being personable and providing stellar customer service is a MUST.
2. Administering and collecting lab work
A new Dental Assistant may have the opportunity, when available, to increase their salary and job skills by taking on the role as Office Manager. The Office Manager is responsible for ensuring that all components of the office operations run smoothly. In settings where there are multiple employees, the Manager is responsible for providing staff with supervision and maintaining employee personnel records.
The Dental Assistant is usually the person who preps the patient for taking x-rays by putting the protective lead-based apron on the patient and inserting the x-ray film into the patient’s mouth. They take the pictures and develop and display the x-ray photos for the dentist to review with the patient.
3.Taking inventory and ordering office tools and supplies
The Assistant is responsible for making sure that supplies are ordered and replenished on an as needed basis. Regular sterilization of dental tools and equipment is also very important.
4. Assisting the Dentist during procedures
The Assistant’s role is analogous to the nurse’s role in assisting doctor’s and surgeons before, during, and after operations. Before the procedure commences, the Assistant places the necessary tools and equipment on the tray next to the patient. When the Dentist makes a request for a dental tool, the Assistant is right there ready to hand it to them. They can also assist with holding the suction device in the patient’s mouth and wiping off debris and dribble on the patient’s face while the dentist is performing the procedure. After an operation or procedure has been completed, the Dental Assistant provides the patient with instructions for further maintenance and hygiene care.
Lastly, working as a Dental Assistant is ideal for people who need some flexibility in their work schedule. Oftentimes, there are part-time positions available which can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, such as providing flexibility for parents who are caring for young children, college students who are carrying a course load, people who have to fulfill outside of work obligations, individuals who are developing or maintaining a small business etc…
If you are thinking about pursuing this type of career, take into serious consideration the advantages that have been listed above. You don’t have to become heavily in-debt with incurring and paying off student loans. Going from contemplation to employment can be a very short process, and you can develop a wide variety of transferable skills.
Want to start towards a career in dental assisting? All you need to do is contact the Dental Assistant School of Colorado via Email or call (970) 372-4252 today! We are happy to help.
Dr. Paul Bigus