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Medical Assistant vs. Dental Assistant

Learn the Difference Between a Medical Assistant and a Dental Assistant  

Medical Assistant vs. Dental AssistantAlthough completely different fields, medical and dental assistants have similar jobs responsibilities. Both roles assist and work alongside a doctor to provide not only the highest quality patient care but efficiency as well.  In addition to an assistant’s main role, administrative duties are typically performed for the office they work in.

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Even though the jobs may have similar responsibilities they do provide vastly different experiences. Before you make a decision to enter one of these highly rewarding careers, WDAS encourages students to become familiar with the educational requirements, job duties and career outlook of both. By doing so, you will be able to make an informed decision best suiting your goals, skills and interests.

Training Requirements for Dental and Medical Assistants 

Some medical and dental assistants may be able to find on-the-job training however employers nowadays are choosing to hire employees with training. There are many online and traditional medical assistant training programs across the country, offering everything from certificates to degrees. Depending upon your preferences, you may choose to earn a certificate or diploma in as little as 9-12 months, or an associate's degree in 18-24 months. Dental Assistant training can take anywhere from 10 weeks to 2 years depending on the program you choose. Dental assistant training may have comparable training as medical assistant training, with an addition of oral health and sterilization procedures.

Job Duties of Assistants 

Both assistant roles provide direct and indirect patient care and will vary given the preferences of the doctor and particular line of care. The major difference between medical assistants and dental assistants is medical assistants work with different parts of a patient’s body while dental assistants deal only with the mouth.

Medical Assistants Responsibilities:

  • Answer telephones
  • Greet patients
  • Update patient medical records
  • Code and complete insurance forms
  • Schedule appointments
  • Arrange for hospital admissions and laboratory services
  • Handle correspondence, billing and bookkeeping

Dental Assistants Responsibilities:

  • Prepares treatment room for patient
  • Greets patients and gets them ready for hygienist or dentist
  • Updates patient medical records
  • Provides instrumentation by sterilizing and delivering instruments to treatment area; positioning instruments for dentist's access; suctioning or passing instruments
  • Provides diagnostic information by exposing and developing x-rays
  • In orthodontic offices, dental assistant may be responsible for pouring trimming, and polishing casts
  • Educates patients by giving oral hygiene, plaque control and post care instructions
  • Maintains safe and clean working environment by complying with procedures, rules and regulations
  • Maintains dental supplies inventory

Benefits and Growth Rate for Assistants in the Medical and Dental Fields 

Both fields are expected to see growth over the next few years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the medical assisting field will experience 23% growth, slightly more than the 18% growth anticipated for dental assistants. The current average salary for medical assistants is around $30,000 which is lower than the average salary for dental assisting, at around $35,000 a year.

Whether you choose to be a medical assistant or dental assistant, both are rewarding and great career choices. Both fields are sought-after healthcare jobs and offer the chance to provide patient care with a vast amount of growth opportunity. Only you can determine the right career to fits your goals. Let Weekend Dental Assistant School help you achieve them sooner! 

Contact Weekend Dental Assistant School today if you have questions about starting your journey to becoming a dental assistant.
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