Dental News Archive

  • April 12, 2023

UIC starts dental assisting pathway program

Difficulty in finding eligible candidates to fill dental assistant positions at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry has led to the development of a work-study training program at the school that will eventually boost the supply of potential hires for area dentists.

  Susan Rowan, interim dean of the College of Dentistry, explained in a recent press release that the college was having trouble finding suitable dental assistants because it had been required to hire those who had some dental assisting experience, gained through college courses, or had worked in a dental office.

  Working with the UIC Human Resources Department, Dr. Rowan established a way for people with a high school diploma or equivalency, even without dental experience, to be hired as a Dental Assistant I.

  Dr. Rowan tapped Robert Bara, clinical assistant professor of restorative dentistry, to develop a training program.

The result is the Dental Assistant Pathway Program, a 14-week type of work study program that allows assistants to work at the college “while they are having educational sessions to be able to learn the hands-on part of dental assisting,” Dr. Rowan said. “They are given reading materials and a computer to do online modules.”   A grant from the Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute will pay to train 12 new dental assistants each year. The dental assistants will be paid $17.04 per hour to work at the college. After completing the 14-week course, participants can seek a National Entry Level Dental Assisting (NELDA) Certificate, and the college, through the Sprague grant, will pay related fees.

  “When we have graduated a number of cohorts, we’re going to have more dental assistants than the college needs, so we will be supplying them to the world,” said Dr. Bara, who was named director of auxiliary programs.   The program started in early April with a pilot cohort of assistants already working at the college. Those interested can apply for the Extra Help Dental Assistant I/Dental Assistant Pathway Program at