Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Dental Assistant?

Certain qualities are important if you are considering dental assistant training

Everyone’s strengths and weaknesses are different, and when you are considering your career path, you will want to choose a career that is a good fit with your strengths. The Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook provides a helpful summary of personal qualities that are important in specific career fields.

In this article, we will look at the important qualities for a Dental Assistant. If you are considering dental assistant training, take a moment to see if you have some of these qualities, which will help you to succeed in this field. If not, don’t worry, you may be able to strengthen these areas with just a few hints and tips.

Detail oriented. In a dental office, there are specific protocols and procedures that dentists use to treat patients. Dental assistants need to be aware of these procedures, and follow them explicitly. For example, sterilizing dental instruments follows a specific set of rules that are essential in order to help prevent infections. It is also important to be detail-oriented when it comes to recording information in a patient’s chart. Keeping accurate dental information is critical to delivering high quality dental care. These are just a few examples of why dental assistants should pay attention to details.

Interpersonal/communications skills. Are you a “people” person? If you want to be a dental assistant, it helps to feel comfortable interacting with others in a polite, friendly, and courteous manner. You will need to be able to communicate professionally with patients as well as other dental health providers. Patients are sometimes nervous, anxious, or experiencing pain, and dental assistants need to be sensitive to these situations. Getting to know patients is one of the benefits of this field. You can develop relationships that last many years, as patients continue to return to the office for regular maintenance and follow-up.

Listening skills. In any assistant position, it’s important to be a good listener. As a dental assistant, you will find that dentists and hygienists need to give you specific instructions, and you need to listen carefully to be sure that you are doing what is needed. Whether it’s handing the dentist a tool or bringing the patient back to the correct examination room, it’s important to listen carefully and get it right the first time.

Organizational Skills. Being organized will help you be a better dental assistant. For any dental procedure, there may be 10 or 20 different tools that are needed. Dental assistants needs to have the correct tools in the correct place at all times, so that they can be handed to the dentist in a fast and efficient manner. Organizational skills are also important for managing patients’ charts, keeping inventory, and other responsibilities of the job.

If you are lacking any of these skills, don’t worry, you can improve! Dental assistant training programs are designed to train students in the precise practices and protocols that are necessary to be a good dental assistant. Your instructors can help you improve your organizational skills, and give you tips on how to interact successfully with patients, co-workers, and dentists. You will get hands-on practice with all of the clinical skills you will be expected to perform on the job.

If you think that dental assistant training may be right for you, read more about the Dental Assistant profile in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Then look for an accredited dental assistant training program near you! Within a year’s time, you could be on your way to a new career!

This article was provided by the Harris School of Business, using data from the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Harris School provides dental assistant training—as well as over 10 other career-focused training programs—to adult students throughout the Delaware Valley, including campuses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut. If you are interested, request information today.