Allied dental educators prepare students to become dental hygienists, assistants, and lab technicians to meet the ever-increasing demand for dental health professionals. They train students new to their professions or lead continuing education courses to help currently practicing professionals stay current regarding new developments in the field. Many are even involved in textbook writing and curricula-development committees.
Because they are most frequently employed in college and university settings, they are typically offered the opportunity to conduct research using the facility’s resources. Others consult with dental equipment manufacturing companies on product design.
If you are looking to make a career change after a few years of clinical dental practice and are interested in influencing the future of your field, you may want to consider this a job in dental education.
In addition to coordinating classes and teaching in the classroom, allied dental educators are also responsible for supervising their students in laboratory, clinical, and/or community settings.
It is essential that educators be constantly aware of new cutting-edge data and technologies in the field of dentistry so that they may adequately prepare students with the most up-to-date information available.
Many resources are available through the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) to help educators integrate their research and knowledge into the classroom in an understandable and well-organized manner.
Though specific education requirements differ depending on the state, licensure as a dental health educator requires at least a bachelor’s degree and a few years of first-hand experience in clinical dental work.
In addition to a necessary background in their field, aspiring educators must also demonstrate these six traits, as listed and defined in the ADEA’s Statement on Professionalism in Dental Education:
1. Competence: Cultivating advanced, in-depth, up-to-date capabilities relevant to patient care and dental education
2. Fairness: Treating all students and co-workers without bias
3. Integrity: Demonstrating truthfulness and acting in accordance with your values
4. Responsibility: Fulfilling your duties and commitments while acknowledging your actions and their consequences
5. Respect: Showing an understanding of the value of others through your actions
6. Service-mindedness: Acting for the good of the patient and general public
According to ADEA, dental educators employed fulltime by a community college earn, on average, $41,000 to $62,000 a year. Many institutions also offer retirement plans, health insurance, and family tuition benefits for full-time faculty.
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