If you’re struggling to decide what kind of job to get or are tired of your current career, you may want to think about becoming a dental assistant. Instead of spending your time completing a four year degree and then potentially struggling to find a job upon graduation, you can get your degree in two years, or one year, or sometimes even less! Plus, once you are armed with your dental assistant certification, you will have no problem finding a job in one of the fastest growing occupations in the country!
There are a number of skills you will need to be successful as a dental assistant. It’s a smart idea to consider if you have the skills and characteristics necessary to succeed before enrolling in a program. Investigating what kinds of aptitudes you will need to have can also be a good indicator of whether or not you will enjoy being working in the profession. After all, people don’t usually like having jobs they aren’t good at! It’s one thing to take on a challenge, but if you love thinking abstractly but hate to be bogged down with little details, going to dental school probably isn’t for you. Check out this list of skills for more information.
You need to be detail-oriented.
Being a dental assistant comes with a lot of rules and protocols. You must be able to follow directions very closely and execute instructions given to you by the dentists. For example, you need to know the names of all the medical tools and be able to hand them to the dentist during a procedure, as well as know how to use them yourself for certain tasks. Dental assistants often also help with administrative tasks. You need to pay close attention to detail when scheduling appointments or remembering patients’ medical details.
You need to have interpersonal skills.
Dental assistants work closely with the dentist, other dental assistants, and patients. To maintain an optimal work environment, assistants must be able to get along with people in all these groups. Sometimes patients are also in pain, stressed, or afraid. In these cases it is important that you can console the patient and help them through their struggles.
You need to have strong communication skills.
Dental assistants spend a lot of time talking to patients and their families, both in the office and over the phone. For example, you may need to call a patient to ask information about their insurance, to conduct a follow up survey, or to remind them of an upcoming appointment. You will sound the most professional if you can communicate information effectively and speak in a clear, concise manner. You will also be responsible for taking patient histories and preparing people for exams. It is important for the dentist that you can ask the right questions and uncover the right information.
You need to be a good listener.
If you can’t pay attention and listen to what is asked of you, you’ll never make it as a dental assistant! Dentists are very busy people who often don’t have time to repeat information twice. Make sure you know how to listen carefully. This skill will also be important as you go through dental assisting school. You need to be able to follow along with what your teachers say and pay attention to classmates’ input as well.
You need to be organized.
Organizational skills will come into play both on the administrative side of things and on the clinical side. Imagine how much more difficult you will make things if you frequently lose track of x-rays or patient files! You should be able to keep tools in their proper place, organize paperwork, and use organization software such as a scheduler. The more organized you are the quicker and more efficiently you can get work done. This is also a skill that will serve you well during your time in dental assisting school.