Joycelyn Ghansah is a former Healthcare Organizer with a background public health, include reproductive and sexual health. When she's not freelance writing, she's transcribing interviews and researching ways to strengthen healthcare labor laws.
As COVID continues, dental assisting programs are changing their approach to learning.
Since March 2020, dental assisting programs have been taking precautions to ensure faculty, staff, and students’ safety. As the pandemic continues, dental assisting educational programs have shifted to online courses, developed partnerships with local dental offices, and establish safety procedures for instructors, clinical facilitators, and students to interact outside the classroom. Many dental programs are working hard to ensure students receive the most out of their programs.
Here are 4 ways the dental education programs are changing during COVID.
More dental programs and curricula are moving online, including virtual classes, minimal in-person clinical experience, virtual simulations, and externships with dental faculty and dentists.
As Covid intensifies, many dental assisting programs have also using the DALE Foundation’s online courses as an alternative course curriculum. Most programs are shifting lab observations online. The Metropolitan Community college-Penn Valley Dental Assisting program works with students and instructors to schedule both classes and observations via Zoom.
Programs are also being flexible about clinical practice hours, changing from 300 hours to 100 hours. They’re working with both students and clinical facilities to ensure students are safe and meet their hours by developing protocols that include virtual simulations and other virtual methods to ensure students meet clinical hours and experience.
Although dental assisting programs are moving to online courses, they still encourage person enrollment, particularly for lab classes. Some programs have shifted to the hybrid method. Hybrid allows students and instructors to meet online and in-person on certain days.
This method meets social distance protocols by allowing smaller groups to meet for classes and stimulation. The protocols for hybrid in-person courses include instructors and students wearing PPE, i.e., masks during the in-person scheduled time and checking students’ temperature before entering class.
Programs are extending their deadlines for admissions and changing how they interview and connect with potential and incoming students. Most programs have moved their interview process online, extending deadlines and admissions notifications. They’re changing their requirements for shadowing or extracurricular experience for individuals interested in their program without a dental education background or course work.
Some programs are postponing externships and graduation to help students meet clinical experiences and deliver better online training. Other programs are developing an accelerated program that allows students to have experiential learning with partnered facilities and offices. For example, a 12 week accelerated dental assisting program enables students to work in the field and take online courses, including dental assisting and front desk procedures. The programs are working with facilities to ensure safety measures, but it also allows students to graduate early from their program and get into the workforce.
Have another way dental assisting programs are changing because of COVID? Let us know in the comments below!
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