Since 1977, the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) has recognized the invaluable contributions dental assistants make to quality dental care through Dental Assistant Recognition Week™ held the first full week in March every year.
This year’s theme was "Dental Assistants - Our Heart Goes Into Every Smile," acknowledged the growing importance of these valued workers and on March 7-13, 2021, dental assistants across the country were honored for their commitment to professional development and quality dental care.
QCC’s Dental Assisting Certificate program is an important part of the dental education landscape in Massachusetts, and is the only program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation in Worcester.
“Our students can take their Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam in the last few weeks of the program so they are credentialed, if they pass, with Dental Assisting National Board, CDA when they graduate,” said Jennifer McKeon, professor of Dental Assisting/Hygiene.
It's a one-year Dental Assisting Certificate program that prepares graduates to perform a wide range of patient care duties in the dental office. Dental assistants support dentists by obtaining health history information, maintaining patient comfort during exams, providing necessary instruments and materials to the dentist during surgical procedures, taking radiographs, and casting impressions. They also manage office-related duties including scheduling and confirming appointments, updating patient records, generating invoices, and ordering supplies and materials. According to the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the number of Massachusetts dental assistant jobs is projected to grow by 12.5% over a 10-year period ending in 2022.
QCC’s program includes business office and basic computer courses. In addition, students are required to complete a series of clinical rotations in a variety of general and specialty dental practices. Students have the opportunity to be placed in different types of dental offices, such as oral surgeons office and an orthodontists, this gives them a well-rounded education.
Dental Assisting students take digital radiology courses to learn film and developing techniques hands-on. They also use a training replica for dental X-rays (known as a Dexter head) prior to using their newly acquired skills on live patients.
According to Professor McKeon, students who enter the workforce after completing the program have 100 percent placement.
“Most students have a job offer before they even graduate,” she added.
Additionally, students who complete the dental assisting program are prepared to continue their studies at the associate's degree level.
"We have a bridge program that allows two students every year from the dental assisting program to bridge into the dental hygiene program and bypass the waitlist. Students must have all the admission requirements for the dental hygiene program to qualify to bypass the waitlist,” Professor McKeon said.
To learn more, visit QCC’s Dental Assisting Certificate Program.