Program Coordinator Chrissea Hallstead
Job opportunities continue to grow in dental assisting, and you can take advantage of the opportunities with a certificate from Lewis and Clark Community College. According to the most recent edition of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Department of Labors’ Bureau Labor Statistics, employment is expected to increase 5 percent from 2016 to 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Population growth, greater retention of natural teeth, and an increased focus on preventive dental care for younger generations, will fuel demand for dental services. Also, dentists are likely to employ more assistants for several reasons. For example, older dentists, who are less likely to employ assistants, will leave and be replaced by recent graduates who are more likely to use one or more assistants. In addition, as dentists’ workloads increase, they are expected to hire more assistant to perform routine tasks, so they may use their own time more profitably.
Your certificate can help you find employment as a chairside assistant or as a dental office administrator. Additionally, you may choose to continue your education in a related career such as dental hygiene, dental technology or dentistry. The program at L&C is demanding and comprehensive. You will study clinical practices, disease processes of the head and neck, infection control, diagnostic and therapeutic practices, radiographic and laboratory procedures, dental terminology, ethics. law, patient communications and office management.
You will receive an education that will equip you to handle the responsibilities of working in a dental practice, and that’s why 100 percent of L&C graduates find employment positions upon graduation. Classes are small and you will receive personal attention. A strong system of peer support and tutoring helps to ensure an atmosphere of success. Program completion will involve supervised clinical experiences in dental practices and specialty offices during the final semester, giving you added confidence and an edge in competition for jobs.
The program can be completed in two semesters. Enrollment is limited, and you must achieve an acceptable score on the pre-admission test. Selection of qualified applicants will be based upon test scores and fulfillment of other stated requirements. Classes are available to recent high school graduates and to adults seeking new career opportunities.
L&C’s dental assisting program is accredited by the American Dental Association-Commission on Dental Accreditation. This means that upon graduation, you’ll be in a select group of people who have the trust and confidence of dental practitioners.
Students graduate with a Certificate of Proficiency and are qualified to take the Dental Assisting National Board to become Certified Dental Assistants.
Nature of Work: The dental assistant works with the dentist during examinations and treatments. Responsibilities include preparing material for impressions and restorations; exposing, processing, and mounting dental radiographs; maintaining infection control according to OSHA and ADA standards; preparing tray set-ups for dental procedures and providing preventive patient education; and providing preventive treatment such as coronal polishing fluoride and sealant applications. The dental assistant is also trained to manage the office. This responsibility may include arranging and confirming appointments; greeting patients; maintaining treatment records; mailing statements and receiving payments and ordering supplies. (The work of the dental assistant should not be confused with that of the dental hygienist or dental laboratory technician.) Most dental assistants work in dental offices either for private or group practitioners. Job opportunities also exist in dental schools, hospitals, and public health departments, nursing homes, prisons, military installations and community clinics.
Skills and Abilities: High school background in biology, computer concepts and office practices is helpful. The dental assistant should exhibit manual dexterity and be able to work with all types of people.
Earnings: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, national median hourly earnings of dental assistants were $16.85 in 2016.
Accreditation: The program is accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. In addition, the Madison District Dental Society supports the mission, goals and objectives of the Lewis and Clark Community College Dental Assisting Program.
All applicants and students must be able to fulfill certain “technical standards.” These standards are the essential requirements of the Dental Assisting program that students must master to successfully participate in the program and become employable in the field of dental assisting.
Technical standards for students in the Dental Assisting Program
- All applicants and students must possess the manual dexterity and visual capacity to perform all required technical procedures and properly manipulate materials and dental instruments.
- Students must be able to communicate in an effectual manner. Students will be required to read and comprehend technical material, as well as write technical reports in a clear and concise manner. In addition, all students must be able to verbally communicate effectively with patients, co-workers, and other dental personnel.
Each applicant needs to assess his/her own ability to meet the above technical standards.
Application and Admission: Applicants to the Dental Assisting Program are required to provide the following information:
- Online L&C application for the Dental Assisting Program (instructions found on the dental assisting webpage).
- High school transcript and/or GED report showing successful completion (must be received by the L&C Enrollment Center).
- Transcripts from any previously attended college or university (must be received by the L&C Enrollment Center). Applicants with foreign transcripts will need to contact the L&C Enrollment Center for further information.
- Current transcript (sent to the L&C Enrollment Center), if presently a college student, showing courses in which you are now enrolled.
- Score earned on Dental Assisting Pre-admission Aptitude Test. Applicants who do not take this test will not be considered for admission. To register for this Aptitude Test, please call the L&C Assessment Center and follow the instructions found in the Admission Guide in the Resources section of the dental assisting webpage. If you find it necessary to repeat this test in an attempt to attain a higher score, you are eligible to retake the test the following year. Candidate ranking for acceptance to the class is based on the pre-entrance exam score.
- Proof of ranking in the upper half of your high school graduating class, OR completion of a minimum of six semester hours with a grade of “C” or better from among the following: SPCH 145, PSYC 131, BIOL 130, or ENGL 131.
- Qualify for ENGL 131 by L&C College Placement Test scores in English and Reading. Please identify yourself as a dental program applicant when scheduling this exam. If necessary, appropriate prerequisite courses must be taken prior to program enrollment.
- One year of high school general biology, or one college semester of general biology with a grade of “C” or better: BIOL 130, BIOL 131, or BIOL 132. (BIOL 132 is preferred if this requirement has not previously been met. )
- Be 18 years of age at time of completing the program. (Legal age for x-ray manipulation)
- Students wanting re-admittance in the program (i.e., due to failing a course or not returning for second semester) must apply to the program coordinator within one year of initial enrollment. If more than one year has lapsed, the student will be required to repeat the fall semester prior to enrolling in the spring semester.
Applicants are responsible for ensuring that the above credentials are in the L&C Enrollment Center by February 1 of the year they intend to begin the program. Provisional acceptance into the program is possible if the above coursework criteria can be fulfilled prior to the start of class.
The student must also show proof of the following by July 1 (further instructions provided at the new student orientation):
- Prove residency in Lewis and Clark Community College District No. 536 within 30 days prior to the beginning of classes. Out-of-district residents will be eligible only if space is available after the dental assisting class has been selected from in-district residents. L&C has entered into a cooperative agreements with Southwestern Illinois College, East St. Louis Community College Center, Illinois Eastern Community College, Lincoln Land Community College and John Wood Community College which allow Southwestern Illinois College District No. 522 students, East St. Louis Community College Center students, Illinois Eastern Community College District No. 529 students, Lincoln Land Community College District No. 526 students, and John Wood Community College District No. 539 students to enroll in this program as an in-district student, regarding tuition, fees, and all college services. (Documented proof of residency includes voter’s registration card, driver’s license, utility bill, or rent payment receipt.)
- Complete the medical and dental health packet that is provided at new student orientation. Must have immunizations for TB, tetanus, measles, mumps, and rubella. Hepatitis vaccine is strongly recommended.
- Must be recognized in Basic Life Support, including CPR, with the American Heart Association before classes commence. Health Care Provider card must be valid all semesters enrolled in the program and be submitted along with required medical and dental history forms.
- Proof of medical insurance, certified background check, and drug screening (instructions and additional information given at new student orientation)
To obtain a Dental Assisting admissions guidelines packet, please go to the Resources section of the dental assisting webpage at www.lc.edu and download the document.
To make an appointment with an academic advisor to review your records and determine which prerequisites are met and what you need to do to meet any deficiencies, call 618-468-2222.
Graduation will be processed after all required general study and dental assisting courses are completed. Dental courses require a letter grade of C or better to graduate. A dental assisting course is defined as any course in the program with a DENT prefix and SPCH 145 and PSYC 131. Students wanting re-admittance in the second semester (i.e., due to: failing a course, or not returning for second semester), of the program must apply to the program coordinator within one year of completing the fall semester. If more than one year has lapsed, the student will be required to repeat the fall semester prior to enrolling in the spring semester.
Students in this program will be required to abide by specific policies for this program. These policies are available for review by contacting the program coordinator.
Dental Assisting - DENT/ASST.CP
Certificate of Proficiency
*PSYC 131 and SPCH 145 may be taken during the semester of the student’s choice; it is strongly recommended that these courses be taken prior to admission into the program.
Total hours required for the Certificate of Proficiency in Dental Assisting: 40