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How Has COVID-19 Affected Dental Assistants?

Published: November 25, 2020
 

A year ago, we probably would never have imagined wearing face masks out in public or hunkering down in quarantine for days on end. But the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new normal for us that also extends to the workplace. If your work involves patients because you’re a Dental Assistant, the pandemic has probably had an even bigger impact on you. How has COVID-19 affected dental assistants? It’s given you more to do even though you may be seeing fewer patients.

Less Patient Interaction for Dental Assistants During COVID

One of the best parts of being a dental assistant is the personal interactions you get to have with patients. Your job is to welcome them into the office, walk them through the next steps, and make your patients comfortable during their visit. Now, your interactions may be less frequent, a little less personal, and a lot more careful. You can’t shake hands or offer a reassuring hug. There’s no high five when their procedure is over.

But you can make the best of a not-so-good situation. Use a plastic face guard or stay masked up. Smile with your eyes or take a picture of your smiling face and tape it to your scrubs. You can't touch your patients or give hugs, but you can ask how they are doing, both physically and emotionally. It’s a tough time for everyone. Just let your patients know that you care just like you always have and that they are not alone.

Roller Coaster Work Schedules for Dental Assistants During COVID

If your dental office was shut down for a week or more, you probably were out of work during that time. Or maybe you’ve had to cover for co-workers who became ill, needed to protect their health, or had to homeschool their children. The typical nine-to-five schedule that you may have experienced last year might be replaced by a roller coaster of either not enough work or too much work. While this has been a source of additional stress, it’s also been a lesson in adapting to unusual circumstances. How have you adapted?

Dental Assistants Worry About Their Patients During COVID

You care about your patients. Of course you do! That’s why you became a Dental Assistant in the first place. The longer you work in a dental office, the more you get to know your regular patients. You’ve built a good rapport with them and you worry about them even when they’re not on a visit. It can be especially stressful if some of your patients have contracted the virus or succumbed to it.

So what do you do to ease the worry? Check in with your patients. Make sure they’re okay. But then check in with yourself. Are you experiencing more stress than normal? Do you find that you’re being short-tempered or irritable? Nervous, anxious, or sad? These are all signs that our new normal may be getting to you, so get help.

Talk about how the pandemic is affecting you. Speak to coworkers and friends. Practice good self-care. Exercise, eat well, get adequate sleep, and if you need to talk with a professional, don’t hesitate. The CDC recognizes that you need to understand what stress looks like, know how to cope with it, and know where to go if you need help.

COVID-19 Exposure for Dental Assistants

Another reality of your job as a Dental Assistant it that you can’t do it remotely. You might be concerned about your own chance of exposure to COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic, you were most likely only dealing with emergency cases, but now even non-emergency cases are welcomed back to the office. That means you’re seeing a lot of people, from all walks of life, who may or may not be following proper safety measures in their own lives.

What can you do to make sure that you don’t catch the virus or pass it on to your loved ones or even your patients?

 

The pandemic won’t last forever, but there will always be a need for Dental Assistants. If you like to work with people and have an interest in dental care, you may be a great candidate for this career. At Charter College, we offer a Certificate in Dental Assisting in Canyon Country, Lancaster, Oxnard, Fife, Pasco, and Vancouver that will train you for an entry-level job in as little as 10 months. Call 888-200-9942 to learn more.