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Dental Assisting Adds Unique Certificate Program

Announcing the new program at a press conference were Dr. Jane Grover, Director for the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention with the American Dental Association; ACC President Dr. Algie Gatewood; and (2nd from right) Janelle Christopher, Department Head for Dental Assisting.

Announcing the new program at a press conference were Dr. Jane Grover, Director for the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention with the American Dental Association; ACC President Dr. Algie Gatewood; and (2nd from right) Janelle Christopher, Department Head for Dental Assisting.

Alamance Community College has joined a small number of community colleges across the U.S. to kick off a new program designed specifically for dental assistants and hygienists, providing them with community health worker skills.

The Community Dental Health Coordinator Certificate (CDHC), a one-year online program, provides training as patient and dental health advocates to complement their chair side dental assisting skills.

This is the first time the CDHC has been offered by a community college in North Carolina and the Southeast. More than 50 CDHC trained professionals are now working with 90 students around the country.

Only about 115 CDHC trained professionals are now working with 130 students engaged in programs around the country. That’s a relatively small number compared to the number of dental assisting professionals are working in the United States. That’s why Alamance Community College is proud to help grow that number.

Qualified students may register now for the online-only program that begins in late January for the Spring 2018 semester. Overseen by the College’s Workforce Development Division, ACC’s Dental Assisting faculty will teach and offer guidance to students. Curriculum materials will be provided by the American Dental Association (ADA).

To qualify for the Alamance Community College course, applicants must have a minimum of a Dental Assistant (D.A.) II certification, or be a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) and/or a Registered Dental Hygienist in North Carolina.

Why is a Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) important?  CDHCs can fill the missing skill set in dental health case management because they will have experience in delivering oral health services. Certified training provides CDHCs with knowledge of the dental disease process; ability to converse with dental offices and clinics; ability to describe dental procedures to a patient or family; and knowledge of dental nomenclature, dental appointments, dental prevention strategies.

Patient navigators have long been common in the medical industry, but the same cannot be said for the dental community. CDHCs can work in private practices, community clinics, or hospital ERs—basically, anywhere that patients need care coordination by virtue of their qualifications to apply dental assisting work.

Pediatric dental care is another key component of CDHC advocates. CDHCs can explain to parents the pros and cons of dental health for children that include specifics which young parents simply may not understand otherwise.