Dental career comes true for WCC alumna
Working for a dentist in high school is where Candis Welch found her career inspiration. But, without a dental program at any of the colleges near her home at the time, she had to settle on a different career path.
“I had a job to pay the bills, but as I got older and had my son, I knew I wanted to go back to school to do something I really loved,” she recalled. “Dentistry is a passion for me and I couldn’t wait to return to it, but I also knew that I had to find the right program.”
She found it at Washtenaw Community College.
The Commission on Dental Accreditation accredits the Dental Assisting program at WCC. The program offers completion options that recognize the knowledge and skills students develop in on-the-job training at dental offices, dental schools and dental insurance offices. And, Welch knew that accreditation was key to her career plan.
“You can’t take your state boards or find work without going through an accredited program,” Welch explained. “Even though I lived out of the county, WCC was easily the best choice for me. It gave me the accreditation and experience I knew I would need to succeed.”
The WCC program boasts an onsite dental clinic where students gain experience working with real patients.
It prepares them for the Dental Assisting National Board examination that leads to nationally recognized Certified Dental Assistant status. The program also prepares graduates to take the Michigan State Board of Dentistry examination that gives Registered Dental Assistant recognition, a distinction Welch earned in 2016.
Welch knew going to school full-time while working and raising a child was going to be no easy task, but her drive and determination would not be stifled.
“I told my son that I was going to be doing homework right along with him every night,” she said. “We made it into a competition to see who could get the best GPA. He wanted to try and beat mine.”
And while mom may have come out the victor in their GPA battle (a 3.78 to his equally impressive 3.67), her real reward came in the form of a full-time job.
She was offered a position at the dental specialty office where she had completed her externship and began working there immediately after graduation.
“With the knowledge and experience I was given at WCC, I was ready to hit the ground running.”
$19/hr and so much more
Median salary of full-time, certified dental assistants, which is nearly $2 per hour more than non-certified dental assistants.
Source: Dental Assisting National Board
CDA certificants receive numerous other benefits, including paid holidays, paid vacation and 401(k) or pension plans.
Those surveyed also reported that certification provided increased knowledge, greater confidence and an advantage when applying for jobs.
The Dental Assisting program at WCC is accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation and prepares students for entry-level dental assisting positions in a variety of settings. The curriculum includes the required dental radiography courses that allow graduates to expose dental radiographs in the State of Michigan. Students may enroll in this program in one of two pathways. Pathway I is for students who are not currently employed in a dental office. Pathway II (ADAEP) is the advanced standing option for the dental assistant with two or more years of experience as a dental assistant and has passed all three portions of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) CDA examination.
Learn more at health.wccnet.edu