Dental Administrative Assistant: Medical Professional with a Social Conscience
At the helm of every successful dental practice is the dental administrative assistant. Withso many office-related tasks required to keep the practice in healthy operation, dentists must rely on administrative assistants to keep things running smoothly. If you're searching for a meaningful healthcare profession that makes a difference in the lives of patients, dental administration is it.
Dental Administrative Assistant Career Profile
The dental administrative assistant profession falls in the medical assisting industry, providing front-line organization and support to dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants. Dental administrative assistants perform mission-critical tasks for the practice, including scheduling appointments, coordinating procedures and placing follow-up calls to recently treated patients. Administrative assistants also act as liason to insurance carriers, ensuring that procedures are properly coded and compensation is doled out correctly.
Employment opportunities exist in single-dentist practices, group practices, and on a freelance basis, filling facility needs on a monthly or yearly basis. In fact, the sheer flexibility of the profession is one of its major draws. As the medical landscape continues to change, dental adminsitrative assistants will find additional opportunities in "minute clinics" and international relief projects.
Dental Administrative Assistant Opportunities by the Numbers
The medical assisting field is poised for unprecedented growth.
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical assistants is projected to increase much faster than the national average for all occupations with an expected 148,000 new positions to be added between 2006 and 2016
- Because dental administrative assistant is such a specialized profession, the demand for these professionals may outpace yearly projections
- With respect to potential salary, a 2008 BLS salary report placed the median annual salary for medical administrative assistants at $28,300; the top 90 percent of the field earned $37,950 while the bottom 10 percent earned $20,600
- Salaries vary widely by geographic location, type of facility and daily responsibilities; Professional certifications in proprietary technologies can also raise the salary bar should you decide to pursue them
Formal Training Gives You the Edge
Readying yourself for the rigors and challenges of dental administrative assisting begins with a course in medical assisting from a university, college, technical school, or vocational program. Typical training lasts for one year, culminating in a certificate, or two years for an associate degree. Upon completion of an accredited medical assisting program, dental-minded students continue on with preparation specifically designed for a dental environment. The American Dental Association certifies programs in dental administration, both on campus and online.
Dental assistant administration is a hot healthcare niche poised for serious growth in the coming decade. It's the ideal training ground for those apprehensive about committing the time and money required to earn a full doctoral degree. But make no mistake--this job is still rife with patient contact and the intrinsic rewards of improving your community.