Schools should be accredited. They should offer clinical training, hands-on experience, and career support
If you live in the Philadelphia area or the surrounding Delaware Valley and are considering going to dental assistant school, you will want to do your research before choosing a training program. Dental assistant training programs are available through private career schools, community colleges, universities, and technology institutes. Here are some things to look for when researching your choices:
Is the school accredited?
Accreditation means that the school’s educational program has been approved by a third-party accrediting board. Most schools that are accredited will list the name of the accrediting board on their website. Look up the accrediting board to be sure it is nationally-recognized, and search the board’s database to make sure the school actually is accredited.
Is the school eligible for Federal Financial Aid?
Most dental assistant training programs that are accredited will also be eligible for financial aid. But to be safe, call the school’s financial aid office and find out what kinds of financial aid they accept. You can also look up the school’s name on the Federal Student Aid Federal School Code Search to make sure the school is registered with the Federal Student Aid program.
Are the classroom and lab facilities up-to-date?
Before applying to a school, it is a good idea to take a tour first. When you take the tour, be sure to look critically at the facilities. Are they clean and modern? Ask to see the dental assistant training lab. Is it set up like a real dental office? Is it stocked with supplies and instruments? Find out how the curriculum is divided up between classroom learning and hands-on clinical learning.
Does the school stay current with new dentistry trends?
Dentistry is a field that keeps changing with new technology. You will want to find a school that stays on top of the newest developments. Ask to see the books that are used. Do they have recent copyrights or do they appear old? Ask if the school has an Advisory Board that includes practicing dentists who can inform the school of new dentistry developments. Ask the school how often they review and update their curriculum.
Is there an internship or externship program?
Many career training schools will offer an internship/externship experience at the conclusion of your training. The internship will mostly likely be a 2- or 3-month unpaid work experience where you will work in a real dental office under the direction of a supervisor. This real-world job experience can be very beneficial to you, and it can give you the opportunity to try out your new dental assistant skills in a safe environment. The internship can also be included on your resume. It’s a good idea to try to find a school that offers this program.
Does the school have a Career Services department?
After your training is nearing an end, you may want help in beginning your job search. Schools that have a dedicated career services department will have professionals who are there to help you find employment. These professionals may help you find job leads, support you in resume development, help you with mock interviews, and give you advice on career networking. When you are researching schools, be sure to ask about the career services department, and how successful they are with placing students after graduation.
With these questions in hand, you should be able to narrow down your search for a dental assisting training school. Best of luck to you as you pursue your new career!