Become a Dental Assistant in Virginia - VA
A quick Internet search for current openings for the two professions specific to the state of Virginia backs up the statistics from the BLS where there are currently more than 2000 openings for dental assistants.
How to Become a Dental Assistant in Virginia
Dental assistants are not required to gain certification to practice in Virginia. However, gaining certification will make you more marketable and earn you the designation of dental assistant II as a resident working in Virginia. Therefore it is very important to take the following steps seriously to prepare for and take the nationally recognized board exam to become a dental assistant.
- Work hard in high school to earn good grades in subjects such as biology and math. It is important for you to have a strong foundation in these general courses to set you on the right path towards a dental assisting career.
- Earn a dental assistant certification. Completing these programs will make you more marketable.
- Most dental assisting programs take about a year to complete. There are longer and even some shorter programs out there, just be certain that you are not wasting your time with a school that is not accredited.
- It is required that you gain and keep a current CPR certification. To certify or check to see that your certification is up-to-date, contact a Virginia branch of The American Heart Association.
- Next you will apply to take the dental assistant examination. The cost for the test and initial certification is $138. Once certified you must re-certify with the board once every three years and pay the renewal fees.
- Finally, take the national board examination to gain certification as a dental assistant. You will then be prepared to work as a dental assistant in the state of Virginia.
- Virginia laws specifically state that dental assistants can be allowed to operate dental x-ray equipment and perform radiologic procedures if they have completed a course through their certification training, have AART credentialing or take and pass a radiation course and pass the Dental Assistant National Board's Radiation Health and Safety Exam.
- As well, in Virginia, dental assistants must meet special criteria to be allowed to administer any form of sedation whether conscious sedation or general anesthesia. No dental assistant is allowed to administer any form of sedation without the direct supervision of a dentist licensed for sedation or another anesthetic professional.
- Currently, the Virginia Board of Dentistry is working to draft and implement changes to the requirements for dental assistants but the drafts are not yet available for the public view. It is expected that the changes to law will be put into effect in 2010. As a resident of Virginia pursuing a career as a dental assistant you will want to watch closely the ways in which the laws change over the course of the next several years so that you will be most prepared as a worker in this state.