Earn Your Dental Assistant Certification with Florida National University

dental assistant with patientEarn Your Dental Assistant Certification with Florida National University

If you are looking for a stable career that offers good earning potential, the satisfaction of helping people, and is growing by leaps and bounds, then you may want to consider becoming a dental assistant.

What Do Dental Assistants Do?

Dental assistants perform office and laboratory duties within dentists’ offices and provide many and varied types of patient care. The work of the dental assistant is to provide more efficient dental treatment through preparing the patient for treatment, sterilizing instruments, passing instruments during the procedure, holding a suction device, exposing dental radiographs, taking impressions, and fabricating provisional crowns. Thanks to the work of dental assistants, dental operators can focus their time and expertise on the procedure.

Is a Dental Assistant the Same as a Dental Hygienist?

The dental assistant profession is not the same as the dental hygienist profession. Dental assistants do not perform the same tasks that dental hygienists are licensed to perform; dental hygienists usually have a higher level of training and expertise with responsibilities that differ from that of a dental assistant.

Educational Requirements for Dental Assistants

As in many fields, dental assistants learn many of their skills on the job through hands-on experience under the trained supervision of dental hygienists and dentists. However, most dentists will prefer to hire dental assistant candidates who have completed a training program, offered by dental-assisting programs at community and junior colleges, trade schools, technical institutes, or the Armed Forces. High school students interested in a future career as a dental assistant should take courses in biology, chemistry, health, and office practices.

What Additional Skills Does an Effective Dental Assistant Possess? 

Outside their specific skills training, good dental assistants are reliable, work well with others, have good people skills, and have a high degree of manual dexterity. Being detail-oriented and well-organized is also a plus.

What Other Tasks Can a Dental Assistant Take On?

Aside from their duties assisting the dental operator directly, some dental assistants become office managers, dental-assisting instructors, or dental product sales representatives. However, further hands-on opportunities within the dental profession are limited for those without further education. It is useful to keep in mind that some dental assistants choose to return to school after working in the field, sometimes gaining an education as a dental hygienist or dentist. Anyone who works as a dental assistant for a time and then decides to further his or her education in the dental field will have a big advantage down the line due to the practical experience he or she has gained.

Some Additional Requirements for Dental Assistants

While regulations vary across the United States, in some states dental assistants must be licensed or registered to practice. They may be required to pass a written or practical exam. In addition, dental assistants who perform specialized duties, such as radiological procedures, may have to complete the Radiation Health and Safety examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). In a few states, such dental assistants may also have to pass a state-approved course in radiology.

Job Outlook for Dental Assistants: A Field of Expanding Opportunities

The job outlook for dental assistants is excellent. This occupation is projected to grow by a staggering 31 percent in just the decade from 2010 to 2020, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that approximately 91,600 new dental assistant jobs are anticipated to be created by 2020, adding to the approximately 297,200 dental assistants who were registered in 2010. According to federal labor statisticians, 2010 median pay for dental assistants was $33,470 per year or $16.09 per hour.

Dental Assistant Certificate Program at Florida National University (FNU)

The purpose of the Dental Assistant Certificate program is to prepare students for entry-level employment as dental assistants and dental auxiliaries. Graduates of this program may apply to take the Certified Dental Assistant Examination given by the Dental Assisting National Board. Graduates are eligible for employment as dental assistants with expanded functions and radiography skills. The university awards a certificate upon completion of the program.The graduation requirements for the Dental Assistant Certificate program must include a minimum of 18 credits and are as follows:

Required Courses:

  • DEA 101 – Introduction to Dental Assisting (1 credit)
  • DEA 104 – Dental Materials (1 credit)
  • DEA 106- Dental Anatomy (2 credits)
  • DEA 108 – Diet, Nutrition, and Oral Hygiene (1 credit)
  • DEA 110 – Dental X-Ray (1 credit)
  • DEA 112 – Front Office Procedures (1 credit)
  • DEA 114 – Dental Office Emergencies (1 credit)
  • DEA 120 – Preclinical Dental Assisting Procedures (2 credits)
  • DEA 122 – Expanded Functions for Dental Assistant (2 credits)
  • DEA 124 – Expanded Functions for Dental Assistant (2 credits)
  • DEA 126 – Clinical Externship (4 credits)
  • CPR 001 – CPR  (0 credits)
  • HIV 004 – HIV Seminar (0 credits)
  • PDT 005 – PDT Seminar (0 credits)

Further Details About the Dental Assistant Course of Study

All courses are available in both Spanish and English. However, students should be aware that completing a course or program in a language other than English may reduce employability where English is required.Dental Assistant students are required to wear medical attire and white shoes at all times. Students must furnish their own uniforms. All students must have liability insurance and dosimeters in order to participate in the clinical rotations. Students must complete 120 hours of clinical practice and provide BLS, OSHA, HIV, and HIPPA seminar completion forms in order to participate in clinical rotations.

Expanded Opportunities for Further Education and Training

For students who successfully complete their Dental Assistant Certificate at FNU, there are further training programs available that will offer expanded job opportunities and higher earning potential. These include the following:

  • Dental Laboratory Technician (Career Education Diploma)
  • Dental Laboratory Technician – Full and Partial Dentures (Career Education Diploma)
  • Dental Laboratory Technician – Crown and Bridge and Porcelain (Career Education Diploma)
  • Dental Hygiene (Associates of Science)
  • Dental Laboratory Technology (Associates of Science)

Each of these specially designed programs offers successful graduates a step up in the job field, as they will bring specialized knowledge and experience to these in-demand professions. Start your exciting and well-paid career as a dental assistant today – contact one of FNU’s admissions counselors today!

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