Medical assistants are an integral part of the dental office. This is because they help facilitate excellent patient care, so the dentists can focus on their work instead of doing tedious paperwork. Medical assistants also provide administrative support to dentists, which helps them stay organized.
Dental clinics use different medical assistants; some clinics may even have multiple assistants for other purposes. The more common type is the clinical assistant. Clinical duties performed by these types can include providing supportive care to patients during procedures like taking vital signs and starting IVs. They may also assist with preparing equipment needed for specific functions, taking x-rays, or giving oral medications under a dentist’s direct supervision only. Administrative assistants’ roles are similar, but they don’t need to have clinical skills. They can also maintain patient health records and provide dental office clerical support.
Certification is not compulsory in most states, but it’s highly recommended for medical assistants who want to work in an outpatient environment like a dental clinic. Most employers prefer when their medical assistants are not only qualified but board certified as well. Dental assistant jobs in outpatient clinics average $38,000 annually, and they’re expected to grow by 18% in the next decade or so. An assistant may start working even before graduation with the right qualifications and certifications if one knows where to look!
The role of a medical assistant at a dental clinic
A medical assistant’s job at a dental clinic can be pretty exciting and rewarding. A medical assistant works as an essential team member that creates a great first impression for patients.
Focus is required to ensure accurate and complete patient records, which include:
- Patient interviews and examinations;
- Recording vital signs such as blood pressure and pulse;
- Taking x-rays of teeth, bones etc.;
- Assisting in minor procedures including cleaning teeth, scaling, polishing etc.;
- Preparing treatment rooms before patients are seen;
Educational requirements for a medical assistant at a dental clinic
Medical assistant education and training will include both medical and dental practices.
Educational requirements for a medical assistant at a dental clinic: Most assistants obtain either an associate degree or a certificate in addition to on-the-job training. Associate degrees usually take two years and lead to an associate degree in applied science. Certificate programs require one to two years of school and result in an award in the field. Both types of programs enable graduates to take the national certification exam offered by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). Aspiring dentists should note that annual tuition can be nearly $30,000 for public four-year colleges while private schools tend to be more expensive, with some yearly tuitions costing as much as $50,000. But that’s not all, and to determine more about their role, we took some help fromMedAssistantEdu to learn more about the different positions available.
A medical assistant can become a part of multiple healthcare setups, including a dental clinic. Such a position is key to ensuring that all aspects of patient care are taken care of. The following responsibilities are usually seen in this role:
- Answering telephones, scheduling appointments, greeting patients and registering them.
- Maintaining the health records for individual patients. This includes keeping track of charts, lab reports, progress notes etc.
- Obtaining vital signs like blood pressure and temperature.
- Taking essential health histories using questionnaires created by physicians or dentists. For example, taking data related to past medical history, lifestyle habits etc.
- Planning concepts for individual treatment plans through discussion with physician or dentist as per the specific requirements of each patient. These may include dietary advice, smoking cessation plans etc., depending on the need.
- Assist the dentist with procedures, examining and preparing patients for procedures as directed by a physician or dentist.
- Completing insurance forms as required.
- Taking X-rays if needed as directed by a physician or dentist. Uploading these images on digital files to keep a record of them and reports from lab tests etc.
- Providing first aid care as necessary, including CPR certification when needed.
- Assisting at check out, including billing and insurance claim processing.
Requirement: Medical Assistant Certification is mandatory for this position which can be acquired through schools accredited by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The candidate should also have experience in lab work or imaging, like taking IV or X-rays.
- An employee in this role usually works with the support of other team members and also need to coordinate with them for smooth functioning.
- They would be working in a medical office and hence should maintain a professional attitude at all times.
- Good command of English is required as they will have to interact with patients from diverse backgrounds regularly. And while the need to use informal language might arise, it should not interfere with patient confidentiality.
- As all aspects of patient care are closely monitored, this position involves high responsibility making it suitable only for mature individuals who can handle pressure well. However, there is ample opportunity for advancement into managerial roles if needed in the future.