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Info on Dental Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeship programs are available in multiple dental fields for individuals who have already completed an education program and are seeking hands-on training. Opportunities for dental apprenticeships and residencies are available through trade organizations, private employers and the military. Aspiring dentists may also choose to complete a voluntary residency program to gain experience in an area of specialization.

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What Are Dental Apprenticeship Programs?

After completing a formal education program, prospective dental workers may learn the trade through an apprenticeship program offered by employers, labor management organizations and employer associations. Apprenticeship programs are approved and administered by the Office of Apprenticeship, a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This ensures that an apprentice receives quality training that meets the criteria of the DOL Registered Apprentice program.

How Many Different Dental Apprenticeship Programs Are Available?

The U.S. Department of Labor lists the recognized dental apprenticeship programs as dental ceramist, dental equipment installation and service, dental lab technician and dental assistant (www.doleta.gov). Apprenticeship programs are also provided by the American Red Cross and some divisions of the military. For example, the U.S. Air Force has a dental assistant apprentice program.

What Are the Advantages of an Apprenticeship Program?

An apprenticeship program provides training by a trade professional and gives students the advantage of actually working in the profession. On completion of an apprenticeship program, a student receives a graduation certificate that is recognized anywhere in the United States. Graduates of an apprenticeship program often advance more quickly than other workers, according to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (www.lni.wa.gov).

What About Dentist Residencies?

Dental residencies and apprenticeships differ because a student entering a residency must have completed dental school. Outside of this factor, the two programs are basically the same. Although a dentist is not required to fulfill residency requirements as a doctor does, dental residencies give an aspiring dentist the opportunity to learn the intricacies of the profession while earning a paycheck at the same time.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry administers a 2-year pediatric dentistry residency program that emphasizes clinical study and research. Residents learn about surgical procedures and advanced diagnostics in a clinical setting. They typically study child psychology, pharmacology, facial trauma, general anesthesia and oral pathology. The program is available in 38 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

The Veterans Administration (VA) also has a dentistry residency program that gives a dentist several options when considering a residency. The VA offers residencies in endodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics, along with general practice residencies lasting from 1-2 years. Advanced education in general dentistry is also available. Hospitals, such as Rochester General in New York, York Hospital in Pennsylvania and Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx have dental residency programs.

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