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CDA's Smile Crew CA dental assistant training programs expand to additional areas around state

February 10, 2022 3033
Logo in top-right corner reads Join the Smile Crew CA

CDA’s pilot dental assisting training programs continue to be successful ― placing most of their participants in open dental positions in California, creating job opportunities for workers who have been displaced by the pandemic and helping member-dentists fill open positions in their practice.

The pilot training programs launched in the San Francisco Bay Area in partnership with Jewish Vocational Services in April 2021 as part of CDA’s Smile Crew CA campaign. Later that year, they expanded into San Diego.

Now the training programs, which teach participants the basic skills for a dental assisting career, are coming to two additional regions ― San Bernardino and the South Bay of Los Angeles County. A third training cohort is well underway now in San Diego and San Francisco, while the first training in the South Bay of Los Angeles began this week. The first training for the San Bernardino cohort will begin this summer.

Addressing the statewide shortage of dental assistants

CDA worked with the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency to identify sources of public and private funding to expand dental assistant training to areas of greatest need. The agency secured a significant grant from the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation to support the program’s expansion. CDA provided additional direct funding.

“The Smile Crew CA program is successfully providing new career opportunities for people who may have lost their jobs during the pandemic, while addressing the need for trained dental assistants to serve the oral health care needs of Californians,” CDA past president Judee Tippett-Whyte, DDS, said in a statement. 

Dr. Tippett-Whyte added, “CDA created this program to address the statewide shortage of dental assistants and continue our strong commitment to increasing access to care and supporting dentists and dental team members in their service to the public through innovation in education.”

Nearly 80 participants with 100% hired or pending hire

The Smile Crew CA pilot trainings teach participants dental terminology, HIPAA compliance, infection control protocols and other basic skills needed for a dental assisting career. Importantly, the trainings also allow participants to obtain the certifications required for dental assisting.

The trainings include an online self-led learning module plus in-person classroom lessons with material developed by CDA staff in collaboration with member-dentists.

Participants who have completed the four-week sessions to date have either been matched with and placed in open positions in California dental offices for on-the-job training or are completing their externships prior to placement. 

The Smile Crew CA program is particularly timely as the pandemic recovery has opened opportunities for Californians to seek new job training. CDA is working with the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency to source potential grant funds from the state to expand the scale of training, including adding on-the-job training curriculum and curriculum to support dental assistants’ path to RDA licensure.

Read more and spread the word about CDA’s Smile Crew of CA. Relatedly, get advice from CDA Practice Support analysts on recruiting, hiring and retaining dental office staff.

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