CPTC Dental Assistant Faculty Discusses Education and Industry Changes During Pandemic
Dental Assistant instructor Hannah Precour presented to the Tacoma South Rotary Club via Zoom on April 12, detailing the changes in the program at CPTC and in the dental industry to respond to COVID-19. Classes went virtual for Spring 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, and the Dental Assistant program put in place enhancements to ensure student safety when in-person classes returned in the summer of 2020. Students in the program perform procedures on mannequins to the extent permitted by accreditation standards and have added face shields to the suite of PPE students wear in the lab.
The dental industry has also undergone many changes as a result of the pandemic, which Precour is incorporating into students’ instruction in real time to prepare them for the job market they will enter when they graduate. She noted dentists and dental assistants have used new technologies (such as aerosol evacuation systems which aid in purifying the air), enhanced PPE (face shields), and new patient protocols (such as disinfecting mouthwash before treatment) to ensure the safety of patients and staff. Fortunately, this precaution – in addition to the infection control and protective gear already standard for dentists’ offices – appears to be paying off; a study conducted in New York City during the height of the first wave of infections found no evidence of COVID-19 transmission to staff or patients over 6 months and more than 2,800 visits.
Rotarians’ questions centered on CPTC students’ prospects after graduating from the 15-month program. Graduates of the Dental Assistant associates degree boast a 96% job placement rate six months after graduating and the starting wages range from $20 to $25 per hour depending on the county of practice. Additionally, the program trains students on both dental assisting and dental office front desk operations, which provides maximum flexibility in their career paths after leaving.
Students can start the Dental Assistant program in the spring or fall quarter. For more information, visit www.CPTC.edu/dental or plan to attend the Program Expo fair on April 28th to learn more from the instructors about the program and career opportunities in this field.