Dental nursing is a fast growing profession that provides its members with stable employment opportunities even in hard economic times. Sometimes referred to as assistants or hygienists, dental nurses help dentists by cleaning teeth, sanitising instruments and interacting with patients. Dental nurses complete a 1-2 year community college course as part of their education and most countries require that dental nurses register with a dental professional association. Applying for a course in dental assisting is the first step towards becoming a dental nurse and the process of applying can be started right away by anyone with access to a computer.
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Locate the nearest community college you can find that offers courses in dental assisting. Community colleges are different from academic colleges, in the sense that it does not make a difference career-wise whether the community college you go to is "prestigious" or "elite". As long as a college is accredited with its region's Accrediting Commission (i.e. Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, ACCJC), its degrees qualify its graduates to work in their chosen profession. Therefore, unless you have a specific program or school in mind, it is best to go to the school nearest to you. To find accredited community colleges in your area, use the American Association of Community Colleges research tool.
Go through your chosen college's admissions criteria. Most community colleges require that applicants have a high school education or equivalency, and pass a standardised test called the Career Programs Assessment Test (CPAT). In addition, certain specialities within the medical-dental assisting field require that applicants take a Heath Education Systems Inc (HESI) in order to qualify for admission to their program.
Register for any tests you have to take as part of the admissions process. You can register for the CPAT at the American College Testing (ACT) website and HESI at the National Nurse Testing (NNT) website.
Order the school's information package and application form. Some schools make their information and forms available online, while others require that applicants request an admissions package online and then mail in the completed forms. If the school makes its admissions material available online, simply download the material and begin reading the instructions on how to fill out the application form.
Fill out and submit the application form. By this point, you should have your CPAT and/or HESI scores, information packages and application guidelines with you. Fill in all the required information on the application form and contact ACT and/or NNT about the possibility of having your test forms sent to the school. If for whatever reason the test companies cannot arrange for this, scan your test results and mail them in with your application form.
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