Monday, December 17, 2007

Dental Assisting Program Receives National Accreditation

Rio Salado College’s online dental assisting program recently received its national accreditation, but for patients at the Central Arizona Shelter Systems, a dental clinic serving the homeless, the students chairside manner is what really counts.
Students in the only online accredited program in the country spend part of their required 300-hour internship serving as dental assistants at the downtown Phoenix clinic. The students work with more than 300 patients a month gaining valuable skills while providing dental care for those who can’t afford it.
The Rio Salado students are an important part of the CASS clinic, said Kris Volcheck, the center’s director.
Rio students come well-prepared to assist so dentists don’t spend more time training assistants than working with patients, said Volcheck.
Some students find the volunteer experience so satisfying that they stay on at the clinic. After spending countless hours as a volunteer, Rio Salado graduate Annette Chunn works full-time at the clinic as the office manager. She’s become a key member of the staff.
“Annette has made all the difference in my ability to serve the homeless,” said Volcheck.
The state-of-the-art clinic has a reputation for excellence so students completing their certification are well received in the job market, said Chunn.
Working at the clinic with 400 volunteer dentists and hygienists is an excellent opportunity for students since the clinic does all kinds of dentistry. Plus, students are exposed to a number of job opportunities as they work with hundreds of professionals in the field.
Chunn spent 24 years in the grocery industry and a stint caring for her father-in-law with dementia before entering the dental assisting field. A trip to the dentist in which she was forced to act as the dental assistant for her father-in-law set her on the path.
“My father-in-law would not allow anyone else to help and the dentist told me I would make a great dental assistant,” said Chunn
Intrigued, Chunn began researching schools and found the Rio Salado online dental assisting program.
“It fit me perfectly. I was home, sequestered with my father-in-law, with my dinning room table as my lab. I had online support 24/7 and access to teachers when I needed them,” said Chunn
Upon completion of her online classes and internship at CASS, Chunn chose to continue at the clinic.
“It’s just the whole idea of what they are doing here,” said Chunn who admits those in need have always had a special place in her heart.
“There is such a need for people who care and really want to help those who are different,” said Chunn.
The recent national accreditation is an important milestone for the program. The school received the highest possible accreditation from the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association. The accreditation is good for seven years. Dental assisting classes begin every January, April, August and November. There are many job opportunities for graduates of the program.
“I can’t keep up with the demand the job market is so strong,” said Nicole Albo, Rio Salado College dental assisting faculty chair.Rio Salado College has 450 online classes with start dates every week. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For more information call 480-517-8540 or go to for registration go to www