The Job of a Dental Assistant
Becoming a Dental Assistant.
Thinking of a career change or embarking on your new career? Let’s give you some food for thought. If you are a people person, who has empathy and wants to be able to make a real difference in the lives of others imagine being part of a team to make a real and tangible difference to someone’s quality of life. Your teeth are incredibly important to your overall health and wellbeing and so impact on how you feel and interact with the world around you.
Poor oral health can have a huge impact on a persons overall health, their self-esteem, and their confidence. Imagine you don't like your smile, you hide away, you don't want photographs taken, eating is difficult and causes pain, you may be concerned about bad breath, you never want to smile and are continuously self-conscious. Why not be a part of the industry that can change all of that for a person. It might sound a bit melodramatic, but that’s how important a good, healthy mouth is.
Being a Dental Assistant is an incredibly rewarding and challenging career. Age is no limit and whether you are looking to get back into the workforce or just starting out, it’s a great choice for someone who wants to really make a difference and help people.
Dental Assisting is a flexible career, with plenty of part time, full time and temp work available. There is the option to work with children if you prefer. There are positions available in New Zealand in both the public and private sector. It’s a career where you can leave for years and then return without requiring retraining. Within most practices in NZ there is also a career path and you can work your way to; Senior Dental Assistant, Receptionist, Practice Manager, Office Manager, Clinical Manager.
Trained Dental Assistants can also work around the world and there is the scope for volunteer work in developing countries. At Team Dental we have had several Dental Assistants from overseas on working holiday visas. Karissa from Canada is currently on our staff:
“My name is Karissa and I have been a Dental Assistant for 10 years. I have always loved dentistry as it is an ever evolving industry and love being able to be a part of making a difference in people’s lives whether it be helping someone get rid of some discomfort or fixing a broken smile. The work is always very rewarding.
I have found a wonderful home with Team Dental. Their name says it all, the office is very team oriented and they have a very high standard of patient care. This is very important in this industry and what you would be looking for as a patient or starting off a career or as an employee."
Training on the job is currently the only option in New Zealand. Team Dental Tauranga have a Dental Assistant working for us at the 2nd Ave (Tauranga) branch who trained in her own time on her days off from her regular job in retail, and then when a position at Team Dental became available she started working with us, she has recently completed her DA Certificate.
"My name is Joelene. I started Dental Assisting a year and a half ago. I have been interested in dentistry ever since I was a young girl with braces. Without any experience I was lucky enough to be able to find a position and start on the job training.
I have just completed the New Zealand Dental Association Certificate for Dental Assisting. I learnt so much from this course and about the dental industry.
I love my job especially being able to help people, particularly the ones that come in with a lot of pain or are very nervous. It’s always a bonus to see them leave with a smile. I love everything to do with my job and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the dental industry whether as an assistant or something else. The possibilities are endless”
Once you find yourself a position as a Dental Assistant and start on the job training you can then enrol in the Certificate in Dental Assisting course with the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA). Conveniently, this course can be done by correspondence online. Excellent support from a Regional Facilitator is also provided by the NZDA, so you won't be alone in your studies.
The course has been structured over one academic year commencing in February and concluding in November. It is a modular, online correspondence course which includes a mix of self-directed learning activities, lectures, online assessments and practical workplace experience.
When you complete the course you gain formal recognition from NZDA in having developed the skills to work competently and safely assisting a dentist, dental therapist or dental hygienist during oral health care procedures.
In order to enrol in the NZDA Certificate in Dental Assisting, you must be a permanent resident of New Zealand and be employed as a dental assistant by a NZDA Member for a minimum of 20 hours per week at the time of enrolment and for the duration of the course year.
All students require a supervising dentist, who is ultimately responsible for their progression on the course and who is able to conduct their practical workplace observation assessments. Supervising dentists must be NZDA members who are willing and able to support their dental assistant throughout the course.
If you are looking for a new career path and Dental Assisting sounds like the job for you, give Team Dental a call and speak to one of our Practice Managers.