To the editor:
I've had the opportunity to read several articles in the Deseret News about the Utah Valley Community College Dental Assistant Program. There are several issues that I would like to respond to.The first issue is "dental assisting is a low paying, dead-ended job perpetuating poverty." I can't help but disagree with this statement as I have been involved in dental assisting for thirty years.
Dental assisting, like any other career, is exactly what a man or woman makes it. In fact, secretarial jobs have been considered "low-paying and dead-ended jobs," but many of these men and women have become executive directors of institutions, presidents of professional organizations, and even owners of their own companies.
Dental assisting offers career advancement into advanced dental procedures," certification, registration, dental school, business management, sales, marketing, and advanced speciality careers.
Throughout the country, salary varies a great deal in all professions. Salary averages for dental assistants range from low of $5 to $15 per hour and up. Education, experience and need affect this range.
Our educational institutions must meet the needs of our young people, displaced homemakers, male and female wage earners, minorities, and society in general. These programs keep the cost of health care down.
In looking at the discontinuation of the UVCC Dental Assistant Program, it should be more appropriate to ask, "How many applied for the program; how many met the entry requirements; how many were accepted; how many graduated and found employment? Were dentists and the public satisfied with the graduates; were the students satisfied; and have they advanced in dentistry or other jobs because of their education?"
The statement, "It is imperative that Utah women break away from female-dominated job occupations" was demeaning and offensive to the many professions that women happily dominate.
Dental assisting is an excellent career choice for men and women who enjoy working with people, desire a satisfying career in dentistry and are looking for an opportunity for career advancement.
If public educational institutions discontinue programs, they must do so through evaluation of need and an opportunity for input from the communities of interest. Only through cooperative efforts can resolution come about!
Darlene Eaton Novak, president
American Dental Assistants Association