Dental Assistant or Medical Assistant: Choosing the Ideal Career Path

Things can be overwhelming when you’re looking for a new different career path. Both new graduates and professionals trying to shift careers are confused when they are bombarded by irrelevant information.

The same holds when deciding between dental assistants and medical assistants. The job roles and duties are very similar. One requires you to get certified from medical assisting schools while the other one requires you to enroll in dental assistant schools in California. Thankfully, this article helps you acquire the right information so that you can make a sound decision.

1. Work Place

Both Dental Assistants (DA) and Medical Assistants (MA) perform several administrative tasks and provide patient care support. However, they work in different organizations.

A DA works in dental clinics under the supervision of dentists. They also coordinate with dental hygienists in their daily activities. Dental offices usually look for DAs who are certified and have acquired the right skills and training from an RDA program. DAs can also find employment at regional health units, hospitals, and educational facilities.

Similar to dental assistants, MAs also work under the supervision of doctors and nursing managers. Most MAs work at physician offices while the rest are employed at hospitals, insurance companies (only for administrative work), outpatient care centers, and medical laboratories.

2. Job Roles

Dental Assistants have to use a vast array of soft and hard skills for day-to-day tasks. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Supporting hygienists and dentists for different procedures
  • Taking X-rays.
  • Reading and recording patients’ vitals and their medical history
  • Sterilizing instruments and medical equipment
  • Making patients comfortable before and after their oral surgery
  • Instruct patients on oral care.
  • Take impressions of patients’ teeth for dental cast

Administrative tasks like answering the phone, scheduling appointments, and ordering new instruments, medicine, fluids, or other supplies.

All those job responsibilities require you to be a seasoned communicator and demand a strong set of hard skills. That’s why dental assistants who have been out of the industry for a few years often enroll in an RDA refresher course.

Medical assistants also use their suite of technical and impressive communication skills to:

  • Admit patients for long stays.
  • Open new medical files for patients and proofread or update existing electronic records.
  • Measure and record the vital signs of patients along with other basic data like height and weight.
  • Direct and escort patients to exam rooms, diagnostic centers, or other facilities
  • Arrange lab tests and connect patients with specialists for consultations.
  • Take charge of infection control and hygiene by disinfecting medical instruments and cleaning treatment rooms
  • Prepare financial statements, process payrolls, bank documents, and even collect payments in some cases.

In California, dental assistants can work at dental offices for more than a year before they can apply for their certification. However, you can accelerate your career by enrolling in an RDA program in California. We are one of the best dental assisting schools with competitive prices for their programs and dental assistant certifications.

3. Pay

Medical assistants are the hidden backbone of the healthcare system. That’s why the industry is saturated and offers low pay. Unfortunately, medical assistants make an annual median wage of around $43000 with an hourly wage of around $18. That’s far below the national average. Apart from that, medical assistants are often overworked with irregular shifts, over time, and some even work shifts on weekends.

On the other hand, dental assistants who work in dental offices usually have regular shifts. Dental assistants are also in high demand with a limited supply of licensed dental assistants. They enjoy a high annual salary of around $70,000 with an hourly wage of around $21. and that’s a strong reason to fill up an RDA application in California.

4. Educational Qualifications

Most states don’t require a license to work as a medical or dental assistant. You can start working in the field right after you obtain a certificate of completion for your post-secondary education.

However, you will have an edge over the competition when you enroll in an accredited program or get relevant certifications in your industry. For instance, in California, dental assistants with an RDA (Registered Dental Assistant) license are allowed to perform more functions and have an expanded job role at the clinic. Signing up for an accredited program and obtaining the license can help you get better jobs and increase your salary.

While medical assistants are a core component of the healthcare infrastructure, it’s a saturated industry with limited job opportunities. Instead, you may feel drawn toward dental assistant as a career with its regular working hours, higher growth and lucrative job opportunities. Boost your career by enrolling in an RDA program or certification course from one of the best dental assisting schools in California.

Written by Amanda Jones

I am Amanda Thomas, with an experience of 20 years I am an expert in dental assisting programs and training. I am an avid writer as well who likes to write about various information on dental assisting and RDA Programs. If you plan to pursue dental assisting as your career, follow my blogs to know more about it.

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