The Job Search
A career in dental assisting offers many exciting work opportunities in a variety of settings. Your knowledge, skills, and credentials enable you to select a position in which you will be recognized as a valuable member of the dental healthcare team.
Personal and Professional Goals
Before beginning your search for employment, determine your own personal and professional goals. Ask yourself, “What is important to me in a job?” “What type of career do I want?” You can then establish concrete career goals that focus on your talents and accomplishments (Box 29-1).
Private practice in general dentistry or in a specialty practice can provide the opportunity for you to gain experience at chairside, in the business office, and in the dental laboratory. Many dental assistants find great personal pride and fulfillment by joining a private practice. In addition, they enjoy developing a close rapport with the patients and with other members of the dental team.
If you think you might enjoy a challenging career in business and administration, consider working for a dental insurance company. Dental insurance companies are continually looking for talented dental assistants with knowledge of the processing of insurance claims and customer service. These companies will train you in the specifics of their own operation.
If you enjoy sales and traveling, you may find a rewarding career as a representative for a dental manufacturing or supply company. These positions often include travel opportunities, entertaining, commissions, and bonuses. Other opportunities with dental manufacturers involve the areas of research and development.
Public Health and Government Programs
Public health and other government-supported dental facilities function at federal, state, and local levels. Dental public health programs promote dental health through organized community efforts. Dental assistants may be employed in programs in which dental services are provided at no cost or at minimal cost to patients who are eligible to receive care. Public health practices almost always involve a team effort with other professionals such as physicians, nurses, social workers, and nutritionists.
Dental assistants with a business or clinical background can be employed at a dental school. An assistant would be an asset to the faculty and to the dental student in many areas within a school. Employment in a dental school provides the assistant with the stimulation of working in an educational setting with faculty, students, and patients.
Many university-based hospitals have a fully staffed dental clinic. Patients seen in this clinic are generally patients who are in the hospital bound by an acute or infectious disease and must be seen in a hospital setting for their dental care.
Consider a career in teaching dental assisting. Instructing in a dental assisting program is a challenging and rewarding career. The American Dental Assistants Association Accreditation states that a dental assisting instructor must hold certification by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) or registration as a dental assistant, and should be working toward a bachelor’s degree.
If you think you would enjoy teaching, consider taking college courses on a part-time basis while gaining valuable work experience in the dental office.
Marketing Your Skills
Once you have narrowed down your potential areas of interest for employment, it is important to know where to begin your search for jobs. Table 29-1 lists several areas of interest.
|Type of Ad
|Dentists frequently place advertisements in the classified section describing the position available and the requirements. The ad may contain a telephone number for you to call. More frequently, the ad will request that you send your résumé to a box address or fax your résumé to a specified number. This gives the employer an opportunity to screen prospective employees before scheduling an interview.
|Some agencies will charge you a fee if they find you a position. Other agencies will charge the employer the fee. Most agency fees are based on a percentage of the projected monthly or annual starting salary of the applicant.
|This can be a good way to be certain if you have found the right position. On the basis of a résumé and one interview, it can be difficult to know if the office is a good match for you and for the dentist. In a working interview, you and the dentist have a chance to evaluate first-hand the working relationship you will share. The dental assistant is paid for the day of the working interview.
|Local dental societies and dental-assisting organizations frequently serve as informal employment information centers. Professional journals also have a classified section of possible job opportunities.
|Most formal dental-assisting programs offer a placement service with practicing dentists in the area. Dentists frequently contact the schools for new employees.
|When seeking employment, inform your local sales representative. They frequently know when a dentist is looking for a qualified dental assistant.
|Many job placement services and job lines are available. These are especially helpful when you are seeking employment in a new area.
As you pursue your job search, you want to represent and sell your qualifications to gain employment. Listed are the specific stages that will assist you in your job search.
Your first contact with a prospective employer will most likely be made by telephone. When you call, identify yourself and explain your reason for calling. This first impression over the telephone is very important, and if you do not make a good impression here, you may not get a second chance to prove yourself in an interview. You may be asked to submit a completed application or a résumé before the interview.
A well-written cover letter serves to introduce you to your prospective employer and markets your skills and qualifications at the same time (Box 29-2). It also serves to create interest on the part of the reader to look at your résumé. A variety of approaches and styles are available, but general guidelines should be followed (Figure 29-1).
A résumé is a concise written statement that highlights your individual qualities and skills that would be valuable to a prospective employer. A résumé communicates a maximum amount of information through a minimum number of words (Figure 29-2). The p/>