On-The-Job Training vs. Dental Assisting School

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Due to the fact that a dental assisting career offers flexibility, there is an increasing number of people who decided to enter exactly this field.

If you are a prospective dental assistant, you will be glad to hear that there are two ways of entering the profession.

You can either enroll in a dental assisting school or you can be trained on the job.

It is worth mentioning that both options enable future dental assistants to enter the profession quickly.

Nevertheless, one of them may prove more appropriate than the other.

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Learning the Basics

We always suggest our readers attended a dental assisting program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Those prospective dental assistants who have chosen to attend formal dental assisting programs are satisfied with a well-rounded, comprehensive education that they have gotten.

This means that through formal education assistants become equipped with knowledge related to standardized techniques and procedures, plus, they learn why something has to be done that way, not only how to do it.

This is considered an important part of the educational process as some dentists may not cover those basics of dental assisting during on the job training.

Finding the Right Dentist

Another aspect that makes dental assistant school more suitable than on-the-job training is that dental assistants who want to be trained on the job are supposed to find a dentist who will be committed to providing him/her with both excellent education and training.

Actually, they need to look for a dentist who is so passionate about dentistry, who would love to explain the details and teach them.

Your chosen dentist has to be patient and willing to answer any questions that you might have.

Also, you should not be afraid of him/her to ask questions.

The Importance of Motivation

Now, we would like to emphasize the importance of motivation, taking into consideration the fact that the best on-the-job-trained assistants are people who are self-motivated and who are ready to educate themselves both in and out of the dental office.

This can be achieved by reading dental assisting textbooks or pursuing continuing education.

Some very motivated dental assistants decide to pursue a state certificate in expanded functions.

A dental assistant who is trained on the job was in a hands-on learning environment, meaning that he/she had a chance to better understand and retain the information from the dentist.

We have to note that learning directly from the professional about customer service and patient interaction are huge benefits of on-the-job training.

The majority of dentists who train new dental assistants will pay attention to teaching them how to be professional, compassionate, and have empathy.

On the other hand, prospective dental assistants who attend CODA-accredited dental assisting programs, or any other formal education programs that include clinical externships are very useful to young learners, as the clinical portion allows them direct experience with patients in a dental practice. That allows the assistants to hone their professionalism and patient skills.

Back to School

We consider it worth mentioning that on-the-job training is not designed and is not an appropriate way of gaining knowledge for everyone.

Actually, those who cannot stand the fast-paced, high-stress environment of a dental practice will not be able to learn anything.

If you choose to get educated in a dental assistant office, you must be a fast learner and think on your feet.

On the other hand, if learning in a controlled setting is more suitable for you, choosing a dental assisting school may be a wise decision.

Students who enroll in formal dental assisting programs are exposed to various procedures and skills that training on the job does not provide, such as techniques in general dentistry and specialties like endodontics.

According to the experience and opinion of graduates from dental assisting schools, students get information from all different areas of the dental field and the knowledge achieved there makes them better dental assistants.

Plus, on-the-job-trained dental assistants who have worked with only one dentist have limited knowledge and it is our suggestion that they should volunteers at a nonprofit office that provides free dental care so as learn from various dentists.

Continuing Education

When it comes to continuing education, it is important that each dental assistant, no matter whether he/she was trained on the job or got the education in a medical school, has to possess a constant urge and desire to gain new and advanced skills and knowledge.

Not only will continuing education and certifications help him/her perform the job better, but will also improve their salaries and help them move their career forward.


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