Transferring to dentistry from another industry

Author: Dr. Aisling Whitaker

So you are thinking about working in dentistry? Welcome! The world of dentistry is a fascinating place and makes for a wonderful career.

All team members working in a dental clinic need to have the following:

No prior experience in dentistry

If you are coming from a different industry with no experience working in a dental office, there are some basic things you will need to know and learn. The first position in a dental office I suggest is the role of sterilization assistant. This is a role that many dental clinics have a need for hiring. There are certain requirements you will need for the role depending on the province you are living in. In Ontario, you can complete FREE online learning, “Infection Prevention and Control”, via Public Health Ontario (View the Course).

Transitioning to dental reception

If you have experience as a receptionist from another industry, you will have lots of transferrable skills that can help you get started. I find that after a couple weeks of training in my office, experienced receptionists feel comfortable in the nuances. You will need to learn dental basics, dental insurance and dental practice management software. For basic knowledge, I recommend the Risio Dental FREE course in dental terminology (View the Course). When interviewing for a job as a dental receptionist, find out what software the office uses. You can find many training videos online for the major softwares so that you can learn the basic tasks prior to your working interview (scheduling a patient, creating a new file, sending an insurance claim).

Moving from another country

When making the transition from working overseas in a clinical dental role (Dentist, Hygienist or Assistant), it is important to know that you will only be able to apply for positions which you have the qualifications in the province or state you apply to. It is a requirement to have certain certifications to practice in Canada and USA.

To work as a dental assistant and be able to take radiographs, you will need to be HARP certified. There are a number of training programs available to become a dental assistant. One option is to pursue an in-person program.  Another, is to enrol in a program, such as Risio Dental, where you can become certified as a dental assistant while working in a dental clinic (View the Course).

About the Author: Dr. Aisling Whitaker, BA (Hons) MSc PhD BDS (Hons)
Dr. Aisling Whitaker is a general dentist, owner of multiple dental clinics Bitehaus Dental in Toronto and CEO of Dental Hive. Dr. Whitaker is experienced in starting a dental clinic from scratch, developing marketing campaigns, office systems and building a strong team culture.