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Oral Surgeon Assistant: Job Description and Education Requirements

Various methods of becoming an oral surgeon assistant exist. These professionals must prepare patients for surgery and may also be responsible for clerical duties. Required education and training vary from state to state.

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Job Description for Oral Surgeon Assistants

The job of an oral surgeon assistant includes receiving patients, viewing charts, and beginning patient preparation. Often the assistant will make notes about performed procedures, progress, recommendations, and other subjects in the patient's charts. Oral surgeon assistants must ensure that surgical tools are properly cleaned and sterilized before procedures begin. Working with x-rays is common, as is processing items such as removable dental appliances and casts or impressions. While oral surgeon assistants do not perform any actual surgery upon patients, they may be responsible for tasks such as checking vital signs or maintaining IV fluid flows during procedures.

Clerical Work

Duties on the clerical side include the handling of dental charts and upkeep of inventory. Oral surgeon assistants must often keep track of how many supplies are currently on hand, and they are responsible for re-ordering when the time is right. They must also become familiar with the equipment used in the oral surgeon's office and ensure that it is properly controlled and maintained.

Education Requirements

Much education is required of oral surgeon assistants. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many states allow for dental assistants to be hired with a high school diploma and no training. However, these individuals do not have much room for growth without education.

Oral surgeon assistants must know substantially more than general dental assistants and for this reason they may hold many certifications and have formal educational training. For example, many states require assistants to obtain licensure before they can work with x-ray equipment. The BLS highly recommends contacting specific state boards to find out the requirements for a certain area (www.bls.gov).

Available Formal Education and Training

In addition to a number of certification opportunities, formal education is available in the form of associate's degree programs and one-year educational programs that provide hands-on training. The BLS recommends that those interested in the one-year formal education should seek programs that have been certified by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Nearly all oral surgeons who hire assistants prefer to provide specific on-the-job training, and new assistants should expect this. New employees will need to learn where equipment is kept, how procedures are completed and other office-specific information (www.bls.gov).

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), surgical technologists, including oral surgeon assistants, earned median annual salaries of $42,720 in May 2013. The BLS projects that the employment of such technologists will increase by 30% between 2012 and 2022 - much faster than the national average of 11% for all occupations.

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