These traits may help advance your career in this important healthcare field
Thinking of going back to school for a technical profession? A career as a dental assistant can lead to gratifying work in this important aspect of healthcare. This role not only assists patients during examinations, but also helps dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons with check-ups and procedures. Dental assistants also take x-rays and perform other digital imaging techniques.
Work as a dental assistant involves a number of technical skills, which you can learn in a dental assistant training program. There are also a number of “soft skills.” These are are skills that you can work on, on your own, to assist you in this career. Here are a few examples:
Focus on the small stuff
A dental assistant must pay attention to numerous details throughout the workday. This can be part of updating a patient’s chart or taking the time to prepare instruments for an exam. When you pay careful attention to what the hygienist and the dentist are doing during procedures, you are in the best position to be helpful to them.
Use your communication skills
Working with people is an essential aspect of this job, since patients will be cycling through the office all day long. You can make them feel welcome and even put their mind at ease about the procedure they need to have, with light conversation and good humor. The dentist will rely on you to talk with each patient about his or her basic dental care, and you’ll be able to answer many of the questions the patient might have.
Always act professional
You’ll want to put your best foot forward, so dress in appropriate office attire and treat everyone you encounter with kindness. Being on time consistently shows that you take your job seriously. Take notice of new technology as it emerges, and educate yourself about changes in the field, or ask colleagues who seem to know more. Patient safety is essential to this job, and you’ll need to be conscientious about the many guidelines to follow.
Contribute to the team
When there are changes in a patient’s health or medical records, you’ll be responsible for making sure the rest of your practice is aware of them. Be considerate about who needs to know what information, from dentists and hygienists to receptionists and other coworkers. Find ways to work collectively with others, and lend a hand whenever you can around the office.
Get organized—and stay that way
As a dental assistant, you’ll need to organize the dental supplies for each new day. There may be ongoing billing and insurance issues, and if the necessary patient information is always in the same place in the paperwork, the process tends to run more smoothly. The same goes for materials in the exam room or during a procedure—your team needs instant access to the right equipment, and it’s your job to make sure they have it.
Being a valuable member of a healthcare team in a dental office can bring a lot of satisfaction. Equipped with the right technical skills and the right strategies at work, this role can contribute in meaningful ways to the health of your patients.
If you live in the Orlando, FL area and are considering dental assistant school, reach out to the American College for Medical Careers for more information about our dental assistant program. We hope your future career path begins with us.