Dental assistant training programs throughout California address staffing shortages

May 18, 2023
Quick Summary: Local dental societies and dentists have successfully launched dental assistant training programs to provide effective, accelerated training to the labor force in their areas. Some of these utilize CDA’s Dental Assistant Training curriculum. Learn more about these local programs and CDA’s upcoming Smile Crew CA Dental Assistant Training Bootcamp. CDA experts will be available from 1-2 p.m. on Friday, May 19, during CDA Presents in Anaheim at The Spot in Hall D for a session on how to execute CDA’s in-house DA training programs in your own practice.

When staffing shortages were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, CDA responded with the creation of dental assistant training programs in 2021. These training programs continue to be effective ― placing most of their participants in open dental positions in California, creating job opportunities for workers throughout the state and helping member-dentists fill open positions in their practices.

Local dental societies and individual dentists have successfully launched their own programs, some of them following the roadmap and curriculum outlined in CDA’s program.

NorCal Rapid Dental Assisting Program by Northern California Dental Society and NCDS Foundation. This four-month pathway trains dental assistants and readies them to enter the workforce quickly to meet a growing need for members and the dental community. They are currently in the middle of the second cohort of students.

The program uses virtual and in-person training that is convenient for people who currently work. The students are placed in externships in dental offices which typically lead to full-time employment. A facilitator supports the students even after the training and encourages and guides them to become licensed RDAs. A principal element of this program’s success is a scholarship the NCDS offers students for 50% of tuition. NCDS members help to keep the cost affordable by donating supplies, volunteering the use of their facilities for training and giving the students externship opportunities.

The Dental Rover Program at Cañada College by Menlo Park San Mateo County Dental Society. San Mateo County Dental Society, Cañada College Continuing Education and San Mateo Adult & Career Education have partnered to offer the Dental Rover: Sterilization Technician Program, a six-week program taught by a licensed instructor.

Students receive in-depth training about dental anatomy, infection control and training, sterilization practices, dental chairside procedures and more. Once they complete the program, students earn a certificate from Cañada College at Menlo Park and will be ready for externship opportunities. Dental Rovers who are interested in furthering their career can enroll in College of San Mateo’s Dental Assisting Program, which prepares them for the state registered dental assistant exam.

Santa Barbara-Ventura County Dental Society and Napa Solano Dental Society offer a Radiation Safety Certification and build relationships in the community through outreach and presentations.

Sacramento Dental Society partners with The Foundation for Allied Dental Education to provide scholarships to dental assistants to obtain certifications and training.

Dentists and CDA members Dr. Karin Irani and Dr. Perry Jue each founded and are currently leading dental assistant training programs within their own practices.

These are just a few of the programs being led by CDA members and regional dental societies to address workforce shortages. If you would like to share your success with alleviating dental office staffing shortages or would like more information about any of the above initiatives, please contact CDA Component Relations Manager Brittany Ryan.

The Smile Crew CA

CDA continues to offer accelerated training sessions at select locations throughout the year. The Smile Crew CA trainings teach participants dental terminology, HIPAA compliance, infection control protocols and other basic skills needed for a dental assisting career. Importantly, the training sessions also allow participants to obtain the certifications required for dental assisting.

San Diego will be the site of the next Smile Crew CA Dental Assisting Bootcamp this July 3-31.

The training includes 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.

Interested in learning more about CDA resources that are built to help members staff their practices? Watch a recording of our recent webinar or review the frequently asked questions about dental assistant training. You can also find CDA’s training experts at CDA Presents in Anaheim May 18-20. Join them from 1-2 p.m. on Friday, May 19, at The Spot in Hall D for a session on how to execute CDA’s in-house DA training programs in your own practice.


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