Dental Assistant Apprenticeship Programs Initiated to Address Workforce Shortages
Dental organizations nationwide are addressing workforce shortages by introducing dental assisting training and apprenticeships. Charter Apprenticeships has gained state-level approval in Montana and Utah. The dental profession has witnessed disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a 30% decline in first-year students in dental assisting programs from 2018 to 2023. Charter College’s approach involves apprenticeships to incentivize individuals to work in underserved areas, promoting access to care. While the United States Department of Labor denied national approval initially, the program has since received state-level approval in Montana and Utah, with hopes for wider recognition after approval in a third state. The dental apprenticeship curriculum covers five core areas: front office tasks, patient interaction, procedures, sterilization, and radiography. The next steps involve addressing logistics, timeframes, and wage offsets, with Montana and Utah planning official signing ceremonies for National Apprenticeship Week. Despite obstacles, advocates believe dental apprenticeships offer a valuable solution to the evolving healthcare job market. Click here to read more.