Whether you are re-entering the workplace after staying home with your children or are just graduating from high school, becoming a dental assistant is a wonderful career choice. Dental assistants are in short supply in many parts of the country today, and the future job outlook is excellent in this field.
As you evaluate different dental assisting schools and programs, these important questions will help you narrow them down the one that is right for you.
Do Your Instructors Have Experience Working in the Dental Field?
Dental assisting is the same as any other hands-on profession; you want to learn about it from people who have experience working in the industry. While it is okay to learn high school writing from a teacher who is not a professional author, you don't want to learn how to become a dental assistant from someone who hasn't worked with actual patients. If a school does not use instructors with hands-on, recent industry experience, then they are not for you.
What Percentage of Your School's Training is Hands-On vs. Textbook Work?
All job skills training and post-high school education will require you learn a certain amount of information from lectures and textbooks in a traditional classroom setting. However, you should opt for a dental assisting program that offers as much hands-on learning experience as possible. The hands-on learning will help build your skills and make you more valuable to future employers because they won't need to give you as much practice time until you are up to speed.
Do You Allow Any Remote Learning for Textbook-Based Courses?
If you are attending a dental assisting program that is distant from your home or you have a full-time job, then you should ask if the program offers any remote learning opportunities for classes that don't require hands-on lab time.
Do You Offer an Externship Program or Assistance Finding Externship Opportunities?
Once you have graduated from a dental assisting program, most employers will only hire you if you have already completed a post-graduation externship. Some schools will assist you in finding externship opportunities or already work with dentists who take a certain number of their students each year. Schools who offer these services are much more likely to have high employment rates for their graduates.
Do You Offer Graduates Career Placement or Job Location Assistance?
Finally, it is important that the dental assisting school you choose offers you some help finding a job after you have graduated.
For more information, contact a school like New Mexico Institute of Dental Assisting.