Everything You Need to Know About a Dental Assisting Externship
The real world can be the best classroom. That’s why finding an externship is a critical part of your education. Carrington College has strong relationships with dental facilities across the western United States. Our Career Services Team works with students to help find that perfect fit.
An externship is a temporary job that allows you to work in a clinical setting. They’re generally unpaid, but what you don’t earn financially you’ll gain in experience. Externships at Carrington College typically last 6 weeks, giving you a short, real-life preview into your career.
Most externships are done shortly before graduation, giving you that extra boost of training before you head into the job market. They’re required at Carrington College, and most students say it’s the most rewarding part of their education.
In your externship, you’ll work at a dental office putting your skills to work. Not only will that help you learn and grow as a dental assistant, externships can also lead to better opportunities down the road by connecting you with professionals in the industry. When it’s time to find a job, you’ll be one step ahead of the game!
Why is a Dental Assistant Externship Important?
Your education plays a huge part in preparing you to become a dental assistant, but the work done in the classroom is only one piece of that puzzle. Externships are important because they give you real world experience.
You’ll get the chance to practice everything you’ve learned on real patients under the supervision of licensed professionals. That work experience is an important addition to your resume. Not only is this a great way to improve your skills, but you’ll also have the chance to network with other dental professionals. Make sure you talk to as many of your colleagues as you can. This will help build your professional network, so later on when you’re applying for jobs you’ll have people to go to for letters of recommendation.
Sometimes externships can even lead to your first job! If you work hard and prove to be a valuable team member, the office you’ve been working with could offer you a position once you complete your externship.
Finding Your Externship
If your school doesn’t have a Career Services team that can help you find an externship site, you’ll need to do the leg work yourself.
It’s important to make sure you have options, so find several offices that offer externships and apply to all of them. When you start applying, find professors and anyone else you know in the dental industry who would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Having that stamp of approval from a well-respected professional can really go a long way!
Doing research and applying early is important. You should start looking for offices that offer externships at least three or four months before you graduate.
Once you have your externship lined up, make sure you talk to your professors about the dental office and how to make sure you’re prepared. Find out what you should bring on your first day and how to set yourself up for success. If your dental office does a specific type of dentistry, do your homework. Your professors will be able to help you, so as soon as you find out where you’re going, let them know.
What to Expect
According to Family and Cosmetic Gentle Dentistry, dental assistant externs shouldn’t expect to jump right into hands-on dental tasks.1 First you’ll have to train and learn from the licensed dental staff. Once you prove you know your stuff, you’ll be able to do more hands-on learning and assist dentists. Dental assistants at an externship can be asked to do anything from clinical work to front office tasks, so be prepared to work hard and learn a lot.
If an externship is in your future, talk with your professors and Carrington staff members today!
Learn More About Dental Assisting
Our guide to dental assisting lets you know how to become one, why it matters and what to look for in a program, including externships.