In January 2020, the dentistry profession has been making news headlines in Florida. On New Year’s Day, the statute known as the Health Access Dental License was automatically repealed by means of a sunset provision. It thus prevents out-of-state dental health professionals from practicing in Florida.
Demand for dental services in the Sunshine State is booming: The Florida Dental Association estimates that 14,000 dentists and 30,000 dental team members are not enough to treat all patients, particularly those at community health centers, which is why there are calls to reinstate some version of the law for the purpose of welcoming dentists from other states again.
Getting into the dental care industry in 2020 could be an interesting and potentially rewarding career move for Florida residents. One of the most straightforward ways to get into this field is to start off as a dental assistant, which means that you would be one of the aforementioned 30,000 team members in the state.
What Do Dental Assistants Do?
Dentistry is one of the many branches of medicine. It is highly specialized in the sense that it focuses on oral health. You may think that this is limited to gum disease and tooth decay, but there are various sub-practices within the field.
Prosthodontics, orthodontics, and endodontics are just some of the more traditional practices; maxillofacial surgery and implantology developed later to address more dental issues and conditions. What all these specialties have in common is that they all rely on the support of dental assistants for the purpose of providing the most efficient care possible.
Dental assistants perform many functions. They work directly with patients to prepare them for procedures, set up instrument trays, sterilize equipment, render assistance during treatment, organize dental imaging files, and even fabricate temporary crowns before permanent devices are put in place.
What’s The Difference Between A Dental Assistant And Dental Hygienist?
Dental hygienists perform different roles. Whereas assistants are needed in virtually all dental clinics, the same cannot be said about hygienists because they are more likely to work at endodontic practices, and they are licensed by the Florida Board of Dentistry. In some cases, hygienists may perform the duties of assistants at small practices, but this is not so common. It is likely to see dental assistants interested in becoming hygienists as a means of expanding their careers, but you will rarely see hygienists being hired solely as assistants.
Educational Requirements For Dental Assistants
There was a time when dental assistants received on-the-job training directly from dentists and hygienists. This is no longer the case. Issues related to business competition as well as professional liability have prompted American dental practices to only hire assistants who have received formal education from established and accredited schools such as Florida National University.
The state Board of Dentistry is clear in this regard: dental assistants working in Florida must be formally trained before they can be hired. Do you have questions about whether your current education can count towards FNU’s dental assistant program? Please get in touch with our admissions counselors.
Dental Assistant Certificate
A certificate from a reputable institution such as FNU can fulfill the aforementioned requirement from the Board of Dentistry; however, it is up to you to pursue examination with the Dental Assisting National Board of the United States. This national certification has a potential of making you a more attractive job candidate, and it can also open additional doors in terms of getting you involved in a recognized professional community with greater opportunities for career development.
Dental Assistant’s Work Environment
Although you can work at major hospitals, medical centers, and community clinics, the majority of dental assistants find employment at private practices, and there is also a chance you may find work at a laboratory facility where orthodontic devices are fabricated. You can expect direct patient care, but some dental assistants with diverse skills end up becoming clinic managers, an administrative role with greater responsibilities and higher pay. Seasoned dental assistants are more likely to become clinic managers than dental hygienists.
Dental Assistant Job Outlook And Expanded Duties
The economic recovery that the U.S. has experienced in recent years has been quite positive for the dentistry sector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for dental assistants over the next eight years is expected to be as high as 11%. This rate is considerably higher than those from other occupations. Dental assistants can earn as much as $42,000 per year if they work at select jobs such as civilian contractors at military bases.
Receive Your Dental Assistant Certificate Program At Florida National University
At FNU, the dental assistant program is offered at two campus locations in the Miami metropolitan area, and it is simultaneously offered in English and Spanish. Bilingual assistants will generally enjoy better employment options, and the 18-credit hour program includes a practical externship to augment the knowledge and training of students.
FNU is a private college that enjoys accreditation and offers assistance to students seeking financial aid. To learn more about this program, please contact our admissions office today. Becoming a dental assistant in Florida is easy with our certification.