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Dental assistants are in high demand. As a result, there are a number of dental assistant programs across the United States. So you’ve decided to become a dental assistant—but how do you know which program is the best for you? Becoming a dental assistant requires a proper balance of classroom learning, hands-on training, and job placement. Below are five questions you should consider while researching and visiting dental assistant programs.

1. What are the instructors like?

The backbone of any institution is its instructors. You want to work with instructors who have the proper credentials and experience. Ask current students about what classes are like. Visit sites that evaluate teachers, like ratemyprofessor.com. Ask to sit in on a class to get an eyewitness account of what the classroom experience is like. Make sure to find good instructors who have real world experience and treat their students with respect. The more research you do to find the right instructors for you, the better you will pertain information since you will be passionate about the teacher you have chosen.

2. Does the program offer hands-on training?

There is only so much a dental assistant can learn from a lecture or a textbook. It’s vital to find a dental assistant program that offers hand-on training. Taking classes that mainly teach from the books and not in real life situations makes learning the craft harder. Make sure the program offers classes that you things like:

· How to make dental impression.

· How to communicate with patients and develop a warm bedside manner.

· How to perform administrative and record-taking tasks.

· How to teach patients about oral care.

· How to prepare patients for oral surgery.

· How to prepare patients for post-surgery care.

· How to communicate with dentists, oral surgeons, and other dental assistants.

3. Does the program offer internships?

Internships or externships are important in any field. It’s especially important to get experience in a real-world setting if you are going to become a dental assistant. Working with real patients is an important part in the learning experience. Research what kind of internship or externship placements the program offers. There can be many internships out there that can show you real life situations of how a dental assistant actually works, and some actually pay.

4. Does the program prepare you for certification?

In order to get hired, you must be certified. Therefore dental assistants need to be prepared to pass state certification tests. Does the dental assistant program offer specific classes or tutoring for state certification tests? Do they offer classes or tutoring for more specific certifications, like taking x-rays and coronal polishes? It’s important to learn all the practical skills—but it’s also important to find a program that understands the state testing process as well.

5. Does the school offer career counseling and job placement?

The goal of completing a dental assistant program is to land a job. It’s important to research what steps the dental assistant program takes to help graduates find jobs. Reach out to admissions officers and career counselors. Make sure to ask questions including:

· What percentage of graduates find dental assistant jobs within the six months? Within the year?

· What kind of relationships does the program have with local dentists and oral care facilities?

· Does the program help students find jobs in other cities? In other states?

· Do they offer other job search help, like resume writing workshops?

When researching dental assistant programs, be sure to ask all the important questions. Career advisors at Carrington College’s dental assistant school are happy to answer any questions you may have before embarking on this new and exciting career.

Young Lee, a freelance writer, is passionate about education, health care, and technology. Most recently, Young has written a lot about the dental assistant training and other medical schooling programs. She tries to be active on twitter so please follow Young, @Onewooatatime.

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