Dental Assisting is a four-term program accredited by the Commission on Dental Assisting which provides individuals the opportunity to attain the knowledge and skills necessary to work in a dental clinic or dental office. Upon completion of the program, graduates are prepared to provide basic support under the supervision of a licensed dentist or dental hygienist. Instruction occurs in classrooms, laboratories and dental clinics. It also prepares graduates for state certifications in dental radiographs, pit and fissure sealants, coronal polishing, and topical fluoride application. This program also prepares students for their Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Exam.
Program Entry Registration Screening
This is a “Coordinated Program Entry” program; students must complete a pre-registration screening process administered through the Coordinated Program Entry Office before being eligible to register for program courses.
Most of the health programs in HWPS require students undergo the New Mexico Department of Health caregivers criminal history screening program. This involves state and federal felony criminal background checks with fingerprints. This must be completed prior to starting their program or prior to beginning their clinical experiences. Students with a disqualifying conviction can appeal some of those convictions through the New Mexico Department of Health. Depending on the program, students may or may not be allowed to remain in the program pending appeal. Students who do not successfully appeal a disqualifying conviction will not be allowed to start or remain in the program. A successful appeal does not guarantee eligibility for licensure after graduation in professions that require licensure.
Other Compliance Requirements
Many of the health programs in HWPS require students to undergo a routine urine drug screen, provide documentation of current immunizations, have a current Healthcare Provider Basic Life Support (CPR) certificate and other training prior to beginning the program or beginning clinical education, all of which, along with the criminal background check, are verified through the Office of Verification and Compliance.
Students must be in good physical and psychological health. Students may be asked to provide documentation of a recent physical examination. Many health programs require the student to be able to safely lift and/or move a minimum of 50 pounds. Reasonable accommodations are made for students with disabilities. However, some disabilities may prohibit students from completing program specific competencies or gaining employment. Students with disabilities that may interfere with completing program competencies are advised to contact the School of Health, Wellness & Public Safety (HWPS) Office for more information.
Program fees cover costs incurred on behalf of the student for student-issued equipment, background checks, drug screens, etc.
Students are responsible for their own transportation to off-campus training sites. (i.e. clinical courses at hospitals, internships, etc.)
Career and Educational Opportunities
There is a demand for well-trained dental assistants in the metropolitan area as well as in rural areas across the state. Dental assistants work with dentists or a dental hygienist to promote dental health. In addition, they might find work in private offices, dental clinics, dental supply companies, dental laboratories, hospitals, mobile dental clinics or with school programs.