Building the Dental Workforce with On-the-Job Training at Zufall Health

Zufall Health’s dental department recently introduced an exciting workforce development opportunity: the Dental Assistant On-the-Job Training program. Generously funded by the Delta Dental Foundation, the tuition-free, six-month training program teaches chairside dental assisting and radiology skills in preparation for the Dental Assisting National Board’s Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam. Upon successful completion of the course and exam, trainees are guaranteed full-time positions as dental assistants (DAs) at Zufall.

DAs play a crucial role in the seamless delivery of dental care. Their responsibilities include patient support, radiology, equipment maintenance, and sterilization, preparation and inventory control of dental instruments. By managing these tasks, DAs enable dentists to prioritize diagnosing and treating patients. This collaborative effort enhances the overall patient experience and ensures that more people can receive timely and quality dental care.

Jade Duncan, DDS, MEd, senior vice president of dental services at Zufall, further explains the training program’s importance: “Our training goes beyond teaching dental assistant skills; it immerses trainees in a real dental clinical environment, providing them with a deep understanding of our operations and culturally responsive care at Zufall. Graduates enter their roles with confidence and competence, ready to offer the best care to our vulnerable patients.”

The training program welcomes candidates with no prior dental education or experience. This inclusive approach ensures that individuals who reflect Zufall’s patient population can pursue a valuable career opportunity within their communities.

Trainee Daana Cadena, who will graduate from the program in February 2024, commented, “The training program gives us a chance to succeed in the dental field.”

A third cohort of trainees will begin their studies this month, and applications are accepted through Zufall’s career site on a rolling basis. Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent as well as bilingual fluency in English and Spanish.

Above: Zufall Health dental assistant trainees use a manakin – a lifelike model of the human mouth – to learn about and practice clinical dental procedures. Left to right: Daana Cadena, Keyla Guevara, Johan Restrepo, Adriana Lemus, Juan Estrada, and Ashley Tapia.

  • rob kwiatk
    December 22, 2023 at 12:04 am

    This new policy & practice of having trainee’s helping doesn’t instill or inspire much confidence in Patients! Many people seeking dental care go to Zufall, cause they don’t have Insurance & can’t afford to see their local Dentist’s! Trainees must learn & get needed experience, but not by restricting quality care to Patients!

  • Nancy Cespedes
    December 22, 2023 at 8:20 am

    I would like to have more information please.
    Where does the training take place, and how many days a weeks.

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