Partnering to Address Dental Assistant Demand

Published on July 6, 2023

It’s the question every dental practice is wondering: where are all the dental assistants?

According to Jennifer Zabel, a senior allied health program director with MedCerts, the biggest challenge affecting the dental assistant profession is the labor shortage. Scores of assistants left dentistry during COVID closures, which only compounded existing labor shortages caused by burnout, turnover, retirements, and a host of other life issues that cause people to leave healthcare jobs.

Dental assistants are essential and highly visible members of the dental practice. They provide a variety of services: greeting and scheduling patients, taking x-rays, keeping records, and assisting dentists and dental hygienists throughout the appointment. In addition, they pour dental models, help to fabricate temporary crowns, assist with the application of sealant, fluoride and topical anesthetics, and provide aftercare instructions. Dental practices frankly cannot do without them.

Of the one million people who work in dentists’ offices, more than a third are dental assistants. Today, the nation has some 370,000 assistants and, each year, dental offices need about 64,000 new and replacement dental assistants. Over the next 10 years, growth is projected to be about 10%.

The need for dental assistants, in other words, is not going away. If something is to be done about the labor shortage, it must be now.

Just what the doctor ordered: partnerships to fill the dental assistant gap

If colleges, workforce agencies, or healthcare providers want to fill the employment gap, MedCerts’ dental assistant program is just what the doctor (or dentist) ordered.

According to Tija Hunter, a member and former vice president of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), you aren’t going to find dental assistants the usual way, so you can stop looking. Instead, it’s time to train new talent.

That’s where MedCerts comes in.

MedCerts’ dental assistant program is the fastest and easiest as well as the most affordable way for community colleges, universities, workforce developers, and dentist offices to train students for dental assistant jobs. Organizations that partner with MedCerts will prepare students for the Registered Dental Assistant Certification, issued through AMT, and equip them with the skills and credentials they need to take on the job. As an added benefit, MedCerts also features student advising with experts who help students complete the coursework, plus personalized career coaching with professionals who help students write resumes and connect with employers.

The dental assistant program emphasizes the following values.

1. Real People vs PPT

The program isn’t just books and faceless presentations with a billion slides. It is video-based and led by real teachers, providing a lively, human element that keeps students invested in their studies. “Traditional online education is death by Powerpoint,” Zabel says. “Students studying online often sit through long, dry presentations and then face lots of tests and quizzes. At MedCerts, we have flipped it to be more engaging and interesting.”

2. Gamified content keeps learners engaged

The program features a series of interactive games and scenarios that keeps students excited and moving through the content. Sure, quizzes are still there, but the overall learning experience is more enjoyable than your typical learning experience riddled with tests and no fun.

3. Iterative

With MedCerts, students cannot merely glance over the material and skip to the end. All of the content is iterative: content from prior lessons is repeated and reinforced in subsequent lessons. The curriculum is also designed to appeal to a variety of learning styles (written, visual, oral), ensuring that the course is accessible to students of all learning preferences.

4. Self-paced

We said earlier that MedCerts’ program is fast. Students can complete the coursework in as little as three weeks if they work at it pretty intensely (about 16 hours a week), but most complete it in 14 weeks. If students need more time, they can take up to a year to work through the content. Because the program is self-paced, students can go back and review anything they need at any time.

5. Affordable

The program only costs $4,000 or $233/month. Healthcare providers, postsecondary institutions, and workforce agencies can sponsor learners in the program or can partner with MedCerts to provide the dental assistant learning content to learners. In the latter example, MedCerts and the partner split student tuition and fees.

MedCerts is ideal for any school that wants to round out its allied health curriculum, as well as for any healthcare provider searching for talent. It is also ideal for job-changers who want to launch into a new career or for young people looking for their start in the labor market.

Ultimately, MedCerts truly cares for, and invests in, the student. “My favorite part of the program is knowing that thousands of students are getting started in a better life,” Zabel says. MedCerts invests heavily in using people like Zabel to create quality educational content that students love, help them gain the knowledge and skills they need, and to connect them to the dental practices that so desperately need them.

Preview MedCerts’ dental assistant program here.

If you would like to explore a partnership with MedCerts, please contact us.

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MedCerts Team
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Published on July 6, 2023


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