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Avoid Burnout as a Dental Assistant

Having a career as a Dental Assistant can be very rewarding. It can also be stressful and overwhelming at times. Working with people can get the best of us from time to time. Being a Dental Assistant requires ongoing dedication and energy. If you find yourself becoming physically and emotionally drained due to your work responsibilities as a Dental Assistant, you may be on your way to experiencing a burnout.

Often, stress and burnout are confused. Stress is also the result of the work environment. However, it is the result of periodic issues and complications in the work place. It might be having a bad day now and then. Burnout is a constant, ongoing feeling of not being adequate in your job on a daily basis. You may not longer take pride or interest in your position as a Dental Assistant.

Burnout results in feelings of hopelessness and resentment. If left untreated, it can escalate to depression. Dental Assistants who experience burnout often feel unappreciated, overworked, feel they have too much to accomplish in limited time, and begin to resent their level of responsibility. Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself is also a factor in burnout.

Burnout generally runs in stages. You go from feeling excited about your job as a Dental Assistant to forcing yourself to go to work each morning. Most people aren’t even sure what is wrong at this point. However, you will begin to experience exhaustion that leads to irritability. Burnout often has symptoms including headaches, changes in appetite, and high blood pressure. During phases of burnout, your relationships both outside of work and at work are going to suffer.

If you feel you may be suffering from burnout, talk with your supervisor. You can find support in your co-workers. You might consider attending a few counseling sessions to help you develop an action plan.

To avoid and eliminate burnout in the Dental Assistant field, you must meet your physical and emotional needs. Too often we spread ourselves too thin. We focus on the needs of out patients, our employer, and our family. While this is great, it is important to remember your own needs. Eventually not taking care of them will result in your inability to care for the needs of anyone else.

Meet your physical needs by having regular checkups, getting enough sleep, and eating right. Exercise is a very important part of feeling good physically. To keep yourself feeling good mentally, use your coping skills. Know what triggers your negative feelings and keep them in check. Keep realistic goals and demands on your body and your time. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t accomplish everything you set out to do that day. Instead, focus on what you did accomplish. Learn to manage your time. It is OK to say know if you already feel over extended.

Focusing on your social needs is also important. Nurture your relationships with your spouse, children, and close friends. Stay involved in Church and community organizations that are of interest to you. If you are unhappy with your job as a Dental Assistant, talk to your employer about help to remedy the situation. Improving your communication skills with others will also improve your over all health.

Dental Assistants generally enjoy their career choice and put forth their best effort everyday. However, burnout is very common in the dental field. Knowing what causes burnout, they signs and symptoms, and effective ways to manage it will make you be able to focus on your job again. Improving your physical, mental, and social health will soon having you going to work with enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge in the dental field soon. If your feelings don’t change, you will want to discuss the situation further. It may be depression that needs to be treated instead of burnout. Realistically, some Dental Assistants realize at this time they need a career change.

Dental Assistant Pay

Becoming a Dental Assistant not only prepares you for a wonderful career working in the dental field, is also pays very well. Since this area of employment is anticipated to be one of the most in demand over the next six years, your chances of securing a great job with great pay and benefits is very likely.

The Median hourly rate of pay for Dental Assistants is $13.62. This is well above the minimum wage established in most states. In addition to a great hourly wage, many Dental Assistants will receive bonuses if the dental office is doing well, health insurance, and discounted dental procedures. Almost all Dental Assistants receive paid vacation days, sick days, and paid Holidays.

However, earning such a high hourly wage comes with a great level of responsibility. Dental Assistants perform duties relating to patient care, office sanitation, lab duties, and assisting the dentist and hygienist with a variety of procedures. Dental Assistants need to be alert, pay attention to detail, and have effective communication skills. They must also be able to provide patients with comfort measures both before and after procedures are completed.

Dental Assistants are easily confused with Dental Hygienists. Compared to hygienists, who have a median rate of pay of $23.65 per hour, a Dental Assistant is not making a very good hourly wage. However, they are very different professions. A Dental Assistant does just that, assists the dentist and hygienist with providing the best quality care for all patients. A hygienist takes care of cleaning teeth and generally has a steady stream of patients who come in every six months for routine cleaning procedures.

The amount of pay a Dental Assistant earns depends on many factors. The cost of living in your area will be the greatest influence. The amount of revenue the dental office you work for generates will also be a deciding factor. New dentists might have to pay less than established dentists will clientele because they don’t have the traffic coming into the office. However, it is very possible your pay will increase as more patients are drawn to that dental office.

Your level of experience will also be a consideration. You may have to accept a position that pays less than average to get your foot in the door and gain some hands on experience. However, with the demand for Dental Assistants, you should have no problem securing employment. Many dental offices want to keep quality Dental Assistants. They may offer to start you at a lower entry level pay, with the understanding that your performance will be reviewed in 90 days or other time frame. Based on your performance, you pay will be adjusted at that time.

It is important to understand that certified and uncertified Dental Assistants complete the same types of tasks. However, those who are certified earn several dollars more per hour than those who aren’t certified. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to take the certification exam early on in your career as a Dental Assistant.

Dental Assistant Licensing Requirements

Licensing Requirements for Dental Assistants vary by state. In some states you don’t even have to be licensed, only show that you have completed a Dental Assistant course of on the job training. If your particular state offers a licensing option, it is to your advantage to obtain licensing as you will have a better chance of being hired over those who aren’t licensed. In general, you can also expect to be paid more than those who are qualified, yet not licensed. There are not Federal Guidelines in regards to Dental Assistant licensing. Everything takes place on the state level.

The Dental Assistant licensing exam is often referred to as DAT, short for Dental Admission Test. The test may be complied of basic information including tools used in dental offices, procedures, safety, and technology. Many states require you to complete procedures you will actually use in a dental office for an examiner. This will likely include showing your skills on safety and proper cleansing of tools.

Most Dental Assistant programs and on the job training programs are well aware of the licensing requirements in your state. The programs are customized to meet all those requirements and help prepare you for both the written and procedural portions of the exam. They can also assist you in finding out when the exam will be conducted in your area.

Regardless if licensing is required in your state or not, not employers require Dental Assistants to complete a background check prior to starting employment. This is for the safety and protection of the patients as well as the staff. If you have a criminal background, it may prevent you from being able to work as a Dental Assistant in some states. In others, you will only be barred if the crime was sexual in nature or violent in nature. Still yet, other states only prevent you from being hired as a Dental Assistant if you have a felony conviction in the past seven years.

If you think your background check will be a factor in gaining employment as a Dental Assistant, it is very important to check into the state requirements prior to enrolling in and completing a program. It is not advised to lie on your application either as almost all dentist offices will conduct a thorough background check on all individuals they are considering offering employment to.

Most Dental Assistant licenses are valid for a certain length of time. Generally three to five years. As your renewal comes due, you will be sent a questionnaire from your State Medical Board. It will ask you questions pertaining to your employment, about any convictions or pending issues that have taken place. Keep in mind that your Dental Assistant license can be revoked if the information you place on the renewal is found to be inaccurate or if you have been involved in criminal activity during the licensing period.

It is very important that you understand Dental Assistant licensing requirements vary greatly from state to state. Therefore, if you are planning to move to another state make sure you can transfer your license to that state. You will be able to if your license is in good standing and the State Dental Board is not investigating any complaints about you. The state you are transferring your license to must have the same level of requirements or less. It the new state requirements are more than you have, then you will need to obtain the missing skills or classes in order to obtain a license.

Licensing as a Dental Assistant can help you have an edge on the completion for that great job you want. It also implies to patients that you are qualified to be working in a dental office and meeting their dental needs. It can also increase your level of pay in some states where licensing is available but not required. You can obtain information about licensing exams in your area from the State Dental Board or you course instructor. The exam is generally written and procedural.

Dental Assistant Program Acceptance

Dental Assistant is one of the fastest growing professions. It is anticipated to be one of the top occupations by 2012. Almost all Dental Assistant programs require applicants to successfully pass a background check prior to acceptance. In addition, drug testing is becoming a widely common practice as well. Most states require students to be tested for Hepatitis B prior to acceptance as well.

Many programs want to look at your work history, education level, and GPA. All of these factors combined will determine if you are accepted into a Dental Assistant Program. You will get a letter informing you of the decision. If you are not accepted into the Dental Assistant Program, you have the right to inquire as to the information that decision was based on.

The reason for background checks for Dental Assistants is because of the number of people they come into contact with. Since they serve the public, their background becomes an area of concern. Safety is a top priority in the dental field. Precautions are taken protect patients as well as other staff.

The background process is very similar in all states. You will be required to provide your personal information and fingerprints. All information that comes back will be reported to the program director. Each state has different levels of acceptable background checks for the Dental Assistant Program.

If you believe your background might prevent you from being accepted into a Dental Assistant Program, ask the instructor or the State Dental Board what the regulations are for your particular state. In some states, they will only look at background information that is less than seven years old. Others will only ban you from the Dental Assistant program if you have been convicted of a crime that involved violence or was of a sexual nature. Other states are very strict. If you have any felony convicts at all, you will not be accepted to the Dental Assistant program. They also will look at misdemeanors including harassment and domestic violence.

Background checks are an ongoing issue with Dental Assistants. You can complete the training program and your license. Your license will be valid for three to five years depending on the state you live in. Upon renewal, another background check will be completed. You can lose your license and your career if you have had any criminal activity during your licensing period. Again, it depends on the regulations for your state.
Since state regulations vary, keep that in mind when considering transferring your Dental Assistant license to another state.

Drug testing regulations have come into play to provide safety for patients and other staff. Drug convictions will generally result in you not being admitted to the Dental Assistant program. It is believed the drugs will impair your ability to perform your job duties in the manner they must be done in. Also, since drugs are available on site of dental facilities, it is possible you will take them.

Hepatitis B is a concern in the dental profession. All individuals wanting to enroll in the Dental Assistant program will be required to be tested. They test requires a quick skin prick on the top of your hand. The results are generally available within a couple of days.

Depending on the Dental Assistant program you are trying to get into, they will require a background check, drug test, and Hepatitis B test. If there is a large demand to enroll in the course your work history, education, and GPA may also be taken into consideration if more people what to enroll than there are slots available.

Being a Dental Assistant is an opportunity to provide assistance to people as well as participate in the practices of the dental field. It also requires accepting responsibly for your actions. Dental Assistants have to be very responsible. It is believed you decisions in your personal life often reflect the choices you will make in your personal life.

Dental Assistant Emergency Care

The role of Dental Assistant involves being able to perform a variety of duties. It also requires being detail oriented, alert, and able to react calmly and quickly in emergency situations. A Dental Assistant observes all dental procedures, assisting both Dentists and Dental Hygienists to perform quality procedures for all patients.

While most dental procedures are routine and take place without incident, emergency situations do take place. Eliminating short cuts for procedures and staying alert with the focus on the needs of the patient will help prevent emergencies from occurring. Planning and preparation can help Dental Assistants be able to resolve issues and remedy emergency situations with positive results for all involved.

People have been known to stop breathing during dental procedures or have allergic reactions to local anesthetics. During such a situation, it is vital that Dental Assistants are properly trained in how to assist. It is recommended that Dental Assistants know how to perform CPR. Some dental facilities require monitoring of a patient’s vital signs to help them monitor for any side effects or other issues.

Another incident that can take place in a dental facility is accidentally swallowing something, causing the patient to choke. A patient can choke on dental equipment, tools, extracted teeth, or other materials. Since most procedures are done under anesthesia, the patient may not be able to control reflexes to push the object away from the throat. Dental Assistants must know how to quickly react to prevent serious injury or death from occurring.

Likewise, objects including dental tools, extractions, and other materials might be dropped or ricochet, landing in the eye of a patient. Eye wash stations are generally available in dental facilities. Dental Assistants need to make sure they are familiar with how they work and where they are located in the facility.

On occasion, a patient may suffer from other health issues not related to their dental procedures. These health issues may include a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot. Therefore, it is important for Dental Assistants to be trained in basic medical issues as well as those that relate to dental procedures.

There are other types of emergency situations that can occur in a dental facility that Dental Assistants can help with. In the event of a fire, quickly remove all patients from the building. This needs to be done keeping everyone as calm and comfortable as possible.

During an emergency in the dental facility, patients should not be left alone under any circumstances. Dental Assistants and other staff members have a duty to the patient to administer quality emergency services until the proper medical response team arrives to take over. It is important for the Dental Assistant to be able to inform the medical response team of the changes the patient exhibited as well as documentation of everything that took place prior to the event. This information can help medical response teams pinpoint the issue faster and provide adequate medical care.

Since medical emergencies don’t often occur in dental facilities, is important for staff to have regular meetings and reminders about the proper procedures in the event an emergency does take place. Practice drills are a great way to keep the policies and procedures fresh in the mind of all staff members. It is important to post phone numbers of all emergency agencies in several locations where all staff can easily access the information. However, it is not recommended the information be posted where patients can see it. For those who are already nervous about coming in for a procedure, seeing that information is not going to easy their level of anxiety. Being prepared for such emergencies will make a difference in the outcomes.

Dental Assistants need to address the issue of emergency care at the start of their employment. If no such policies and procedures are in place, encourage your employer to establish them. It only takes one incident of a medical emergency taking place for a dental facility to be sued. If they are found to be negligent it could result in charges being filed or the business having to close down. Protecting your job and the business you work for as well as providing quality procedures for all patients will ensure job security.

Certified Dental Assistant Requirements

Completing a Dental Assistant program can be the opportunity to explore a wonderful career in the field of dentistry. While most states don’t require licensing, obtaining your certification as a Dental Assistant will give you and edge over the competition. This will allow you to have a wide selection of employment opportunities to choose from. Most Dental Assistants with a certificate find that they are paid more for their work than those Dental Assistants who have not obtained licensing.

The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. set the standards for the Certified Dental Assistant, known as CDA. The CDA exam is composed of three parts. The General Chairside is a written test composed of 120 multiple choice questions. The questions are based on basic Dental Assistant fundamentals. The Infection Control segment is also a written portion. It is composed of 100 multiple choice questions relating to information on various diseases, the risks, and prevention methods. The last portion of the exam is the Health and Safety portion. This is a 100 question multiple choice section that is basically common sense related. Some Nursing Assistants choose to take the Certified Dental Assistant portion as well. This is a 210 question multiple choice section.

To prepare for the CDA, review your text book and notes from your Dental Assistant program. It is a good idea to purchase a CDA study guide. You can form a study group with other students who will be taking the CDA exam. The internet also has many free practice tests available. The exam is given in either a written form or computerized form. Nursing Assistant can choose the method they are most comfortable with.

To ensure you do the best possible on the CDA test, consider scheduling it immediately after you have completed your Dental Assistant Program. This is a great time to do it because all of the information is still fresh in your mind. You are also still in learning mode, so you should not suffer too much from test anxiety. Those who test right after completing their Dental Assistant program score better on the test. The longer you wait, they lower your score is likely to be. It is also less likely you will take the test once you have secured employment as a Dental Assistant.

In some states, Dental Assistants who have obtained the certification can perform various dental procedures. This definitely makes you a greater asset to the dental facility you work for if your state offers this statute. This will also encourage employers in these states to hire you over other Dental Assistants who are not certified. You will be worth more to the employer, so you will likely be offered more pay and better benefits.

For Dental Assistants, the decision to take the CDA is theirs to make. Since licensing is not a requirement, then many choose not to go through the test of taking another exam. However, there is nothing to lose because if you don’t pass the test you are still qualified to be a Dental Assistant upon completion of your program. However, the benefits of having an edge over the competition as well as the additional pay for the same type of work are encouraging to proceed with taking the CDA.

CDA exams vary in cost by state. They are generally held monthly. You can obtain a schedule of CDA exams from your program instructor, your State Dental Board, or from The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. They can also refer you to the best materials to study for the CDA test based on the requirements of your state.