Is being a dental assistant first before a dental hygienist a good or reasonable idea?

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prospective student in Minneapolis, Minnesota

58 months ago

Does anyone think it is a reasonable idea to become a dental assistant and then become a RDH so that I am able to get a job as a DA if there are no RDH jobs, which there really are not right now in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I was thinking of getting an associates in dental assisting and working part time and attending an associates of dental hygiene and eventually get my B.S. in Dental hygiene. I am at the University of Minnesota and it is very expensive for a public university. I don't want to give up on my dream of being a RDH because I really love the environment and everything about it, but I do want to be realistic about what is happening in the field. ... or maybe I should just move to the UK it looks like they have a million jobs over there :(

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jclum11 in Atlanta, Georgia

58 months ago

I am a dental hygienist and have been one for 10 years and was an assistant before that. Getting an assiting degree first is a good idea but not necessary. The reason I would do assisting first is a few reasons-you can see if you really enjoy the field before you put all the time into it. It is sometimes not what people think it is. With insurance and all this stuff it has changed. I still love it but you have to find the right office or your life is controlled by insurance. Also, because the hygiene jobs are limited you can atleast say you have experience when you get out-even if it is not in hygiene, it is dental clinical experience which is going to put you one up on another applicant right out of school without it. You can also usually find a part time job as an assistant while going to hygiene school - that is what I did. The only thing is I would not waste the time, money, and energy into getting a degree in assisting. There is a degree program but it is not necessary and that usually doesn't matter to docs when hiring. You can go to a tech school and get a certificate and the tech schools really help with job placement. You still take the same test and get the same license as an assistant with an associates and the $ is no different. Most of what you learn as an assitant is on the job. Of course you do learn in school, but every dentist has a different process and uses different materials so they can't teach you everything in school. With hygiene i would not go for my bachelor's. I would do associates first. In the clinical world of dentistry a bach and assoc are the same thing. There is no more money and it doesn't make it easier.Now, I am going back to school for my bach but that is because I want to teach dental hygiene. So if you want to work in an office I would rec a certicate in dental assisting and a assoc in hygiene. Most schools that offer a bach of hygiene have an evening or online program for working hygienist. Hope this help sorry it so long.

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prospective student in Minneapolis, Minnesota

58 months ago

Thank you it helps a lot! Yet, I do need my Bach because I want to teach as well! I want to get my MA also ... ha a lot of schooling, but I don't really mind. Thank you, very insightful!

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prospective student in Minneapolis, Minnesota

58 months ago

Thank you!

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exp in Massachusetts

58 months ago

prospective student in Minneapolis, Minnesota said: Thank you!

Please read other threads as to the difficulty many skilled, professionals with yrs. of experience, cont. education , etc. are going through! It's rough out there and the jobs are in the hands of the Dr.'s now as far as wages, etc. Questionable job market and VERY expensive to train...read "recent grad threads" about "where are the jobs....and how long they've been looking" not to say REGULAR...SET...DAYS and HOURS. Look into other fields of interest that offer BENEFITS, RETIREMENT, MED., DENT., something to think about... now , not in 30yrs. with "whatever you've invested in and saved on your own". GL in your future, A Realist.

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Kaitlyn in Covina, California

56 months ago

I was also curious about if being a dental assistant really benefits you while your in dental hygiene school? I am a dental assistant now and i have heard that hygiene school is very difficult and I was just curious what someone thought who went to hygiene school while they were also an assistant.

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Susan in Placentia, California

56 months ago

Kaitlyn in Covina, California said: I was also curious about if being a dental assistant really benefits you while your in dental hygiene school? I am a dental assistant now and i have heard that hygiene school is very difficult and I was just curious what someone thought who went to hygiene school while they were also an assistant.

I had zero experience as a DA when I started my DH program. The only time those who had DA experience had an advantage over me was during radiography training.

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smile in Calgary, Alberta

56 months ago

Kaitlyn in Covina, California said: I was also curious about if being a dental assistant really benefits you while your in dental hygiene school? I am a dental assistant now and i have heard that hygiene school is very difficult and I was just curious what someone thought who went to hygiene school while they were also an assistant.

I was a dental assistant for many years prior to being a hygienist. Most dentists who I have come across choose a RDH who was a DA 1st. As a DA, you are familiar with the dynamics of the working environment. Most RDHs appreciate the work of a DA more if they were DAs. This allows for a more harmonious work environment. I know I got jobs over direct entry RDHs. As a DA in school, you are fluent in dental terminology & are already trained at clinical skills such as (this is western Canada info) polishing, fluoride applications, PSR, radiography, impressions, bleaching tray & mouthguard fabrication & I'm sure I am missing a few other skills. You are already introduced to anatomy, pharmacology, histology & embriology, microbiology, etc. Exp is correct though, it all evens out in the end. I am a single parent & it really helped me out as I didn't need to work as hard at some of the classes. Many of my classmates were able to audit classes, giving us more free time to study for periodontology, etc. In answer to your question, it really aided me both in school & entering the work force. This is my experience.

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