5 Tips for Your Dental Assistant Externship

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Your dental assistant externship is the capstone experience of your training program. It allows you to bring the lessons you’ve learned in the classroom out into the real world under the guidance of a licensed dentist. You probably feel excited about the opportunity, but also nervous about how well you might do. Being well-prepared can help ease your fears and help you find success on the job. Here’s what to do to get the most from your externship:  

1. Treat the Dental Externship Like a Job

Go into the externship with the mindset of a real employee. Act and dress professionally. Wear the required scrubs and appropriate, comfortable footwear. Get to work a few minutes early every day and have a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. Treat the patients with kindness and respect. Be friendly and courteous with the staff—after all, they can help you build your network and become valuable resources when you do look for your first job. Most of all, try to be a valuable member of the team, by being reliable and helpful. 

2. Make a List of Dental Assisting Questions

Before you start out on your first day, make a list of questions. What do you want to know about the dental industry and your future job that you haven’t learned already? Maybe you want advice on how to build good relationships with your patients. Observe how other members of the team treat patients and do the work and take note. The team that you work with can help you sharpen your skills, and they can also share their wisdom and industry insights. All you have to do is ask. 

3. Bring a Notebook for Dental Assisting

Take a notebook with you to the office. You can jot down answers to your questions throughout the day. You can also add new questions and ask the team about them when there’s a break. And you can make observations of what you learn. Maybe you’ll watch another Dental Assistant take an Xray or assist on a procedure. How do they perform the tasks of the job? Would you do it the same way or do you have more questions? This is a time for learning and a time to get your questions answered.

4. Be Willing to Try New Things During Externship

Your dental assistant externship is your chance to gain experience in different areas of dental assisting, so be open to learning. Don’t be afraid to answer phone calls, interact with patients, or assist on X-rays. These are the kinds of responsibilities you will have on your first job, so take the time to practice now. A love of learning will serve you during your externship and throughout your career as dentistry is an ever-changing field. Plus, the staff wants to see that you’re teachable. If a position does open up on the team, your attitude could give you a competitive edge. 

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes during Externship

Mistakes are part of the learning process, and externships are designed for you to practice what you’ve learned in a safe space.  It may feel embarrassing to make an error, but every Dental Assistant has made one or two, especially during training. The important lesson is to learn from your mistakes. Handle missteps with humility and maturity, and you can still make a good impression.  

If you’re ready to start a new career as a Dental Assistant, contact Charter College today. We offer a Certificate in Dental Assisting that can prepare you for entry-level work in the field. Our program includes an externship that will place you at a local facility where you can gain real-world experience before you graduate. Call 888-200-9842 or fill out the form to learn more.