Dental assistants are a significant area of need in both urban Portland and in rural dental practices around Oregon. Getting your basic dental assisting certification and an Expanded Functions exam helps raise your qualifications amongst dental assistants. What's more, Portland Community College offers the Integrated Community Dental Assisting program to train versatile dental assistants with a wealth of classroom and hands-on knowledge going into their first jobs. Let's look at why this role is so crucial.
Dental offices may have a dentist's name on the door, but usually, it takes more than just the dentist to handle the tasks that keep the business afloat. Instead, various workers, such as dental assistants, handle tasks from the moment the patients walk through the door till the practice closes for the day and prepares for the next day.
Dental assistant work is in very high demand right now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the field's growth rate at 11%, making it a high-demand career in Portland. Becoming a dental assistant is a rewarding and varied career, offering the chance to see the inner workings of a healthcare practice if you have a goal of continuing with your education to participate in some other aspect of the field. If you speak to any dentist who's gone through a hiring shortage, they'll tell you exactly the value of dental assistants. Offices run on the labor of these workers!
There will always be perks and drawbacks when you choose to pursue a new career, be it for the first time or as you’re switching industries. Any career counselor would tell you to choose a career based on your preferences and aversions. For instance, if you have always struggled with and disliked math, choosing an actuarial or accounting career could make your day-to-day challenging. If you've been holed up with a calculator doing equations for fun throughout your youth, it might be the perfect fit.
Portland’s population is constantly expanding and with it, there is a steady rise in the need for excellent dental care in our community. While any given practice may have one or a few dentists, each practice has excellent paying jobs like Dental Hygienists or Dental Assistants that require less extensive training periods than going through a full dental program.
Stacy has been with PCC coordinating dental health education courses over the past three years. She was a dental assistant for 14 years before completing her degree in 2012 at PSU in Community Health Education.
PCC's Integrated Community Dental Assisting program (ICDA) has been working hard to help fill the demand for dental assistants in our community. Success and satisfaction has been experienced by the first two cohorts of students, within their externship dental offices and sponsors. We're accepting applicants to our next cohort, beginning with an orientation in January. Keep reading to learn more!
Earlier this year PCC employees Stacy Bone (Institute for Health Professionals) and Ginny Jorgensen (Integrated Community Dental Assisting Instructor) traveled to China with A-dec, a leading dental equipment manufacturer located in Newberg, Oregon. Bone said her goal was to help educate and encourage dentists to utilize the benefits of having a dental assistants working chair-side, a practice that isn’t yet common in China. Bone and Jorgensen connected with Chinese audiences and shared best practices during demonstrations for prospective dental assistants.
Considering becoming a dental assistant? You’re not alone. The industry is continuously growing, with an estimated 65,000 more dental assistants needed by 2026. Dental assistants play a significant role as a member of the dental health care team, increasing the efficiency of the dentist in a number of ways. They provide patient care, take x-rays, assist with dental procedures, and handle other routine tasks.