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Certified Nursing Assistants VS Dental Assistant
Many of our students have considered other careers before choosing dental assisting with nursing assisting being one of them. Before making decisions regarding your future, we advise learning about your options first. While nursing assistants and dental assistants have many similarities, they vary quite a bit. Each working environment and daily responsibilities differentiate amongst offices and especially specialty offices which could require further training outside the necessary schooling. The overall duty for both assistants however is to focus on patient safety and comfort and provide timely and accurate documentation for the office and doctor or dentist.
What Is A CNA?
A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) provides direct care to patients or residents of a hospital home or facility like a nursing home. A Certified Nursing Assistant works under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) providing hands-on care to patients, residents, or clients. Typical responsibilities include taking vital signs and helping patients with essential daily tasks like dressing, eating, toileting and personal hygiene. A CNA provides individualized care to patients to help maintain the best possible quality of life. In addition to training every CNA must be certified in CPR and First Aid and be familiar with fire safety, emergency procedures and the safety policies of the facility where they are employed.
Typical duties of a CNA include:
- Taking and recording vital signs
- Answering call lights and helping with requests
- Turning, repositioning, and ambulating residents
- Communicating with other team members about patients
- Observing patients and reporting issues to nurses
- Documenting information like intake and output
- Keeping patients comfortable
- Assisting with medical procedures
Requirements in Becoming a CNA
There are plenty of great reasons to consider becoming a CNA and while being the fastest way to becoming a professional member of the healthcare team, many consider this route first. Becoming a CNA does not require a college degree. Opportunities to complete a CNA training program are typically anywhere from 4-12 weeks and usually are very affordable. The average cost for a state-approved school is around $1,200, with an additionial $200 for the certification process. Because the demand for CNAs is high, some nursing homes and skilled care facilities offer tuition reimbursement, paid employment during training, or free CNA classes with some employment stipulations.
What You Will Learn in a CNA Program vs WDAS's Program?
Every program offers extensive training in the essential skills necessary to provide patients with daily care like bathing, dressing, feeding and toileting. CNAs learn to transfer and position patients, and help residents walk or exercise. Instruction on observing and accurately reporting symptoms to share with the healthcare team is also crucial.
CNA training covers a wide variety of topics including:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Infection control
- Vital signs and measurements
- Communication and teamwork
- Cultural diversity
- Resident’s rights
- Mental health
- Training programs also teach the legal aspects of healthcare, including data collection, documentation, reporting suspected abuse, and protecting patient confidentiality.
Dental Assistant Training Curriculum at WDAS:
- Preventive Dentistry
- Ethics and Law of Dentistry
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Restorative Dentistry
- Oral Surgery
- Prosthetic Dentistry – fixed and removable
- Interview Process and Resume
- Medical Emergencies
- Pain and Anxiety Control
- Infection control
- OSHA and HIPAA regulations
- Dental Materials
- Dental Charting
- Handpieces and burs
Clinical Dental Assistant Training
- Radiology (bitewing, periapical, full mouth series and panoramic x-rays)
- Infection control with instrument processing and sterilization
- Needle and syringe set up and handling
- Correct instrument passing
- Suctioning and tissue retraction
- Treatment room disinfection
- Stone/plaster pour-up and model trimming
Employment Outlook for CNAs
- 18% Expected job growth for CNAs through 2024
- As the Baby Boomer generation gets older, the need for more medical services, including assistance with daily activities and round-the-clock care, is going to climb steadily causing opportunities in different settings to expand.
- $26,000 is the mean CNA annual salary across the country with an average of additional $6,500 of benefits.
Employment Outlook for Dental Assistants
- Reports show a 2.1% annual growth in dental assistant job demand, with approximately 240 Dental Assistant job openings a year.
- The number of dental assistant jobs is expected to increase 25% between 2012 and 2022.
- The median annual wage for dental assistants is $37,630
What Makes a Great Assistant?
All successful healthcare professionals have similar traits, including dependability, strong communication skills and being very detail oriented. Working to care for others can be physically and mentally draining and also requires physical and mental stamina.
A great assistant brings other qualities which make the workplace and patient care better. Along with the desire to help others, assistants should know every day is different. Whether a patient isn’t well and needs more attention or a co-worker is ill and assignments must be redistributed, assistants must be accepting of change and be willing to smile through it all. Flexibility and a positive attitude are essential. Some days can be challenging but in the end more rewarding above all.
Continuing Education as An Assistant in the Health Field
Some CNAs use their job as a stepping stone to get to another level of nursing. While many employers have tuition reimbursement benefits and promote employers with a higher degree, nursing assisting offers a career plan allowing students to work while returning to school. Gaining experience as a CNA and learning from LPN or RN coworkers provides many advantages and helps assistants become one step closer to their dream job.
Dental assistants more than not end up becoming dental hygienists. Dental assisting is a great stepping stone, educating students on the basics of dentistry and helping them get their foot in the door. Becoming a dental assistant first also solidifies your decisions to stay in the dental field.
One of the best reasons to become an assistant, whether in health or dental, is the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of patients and residents. When sick or vulnerable, patients need compassionate care from well-trained professionals. As an assistant you spend the most time with the patients. No other team member has the opportunity to become familiar with clients and to form trusting relationships like that of an assistant.
If being an assistant is your calling you've come to the right place. There's no better time than now to either start or change your career. For more information on beoming a dental assistant and moving forward with our 10 week program follow the below steps or contact our Appleton, WI office today.Return to Dental Assistant Articles