|Action||Training in infection control|
|Comment Period||Ends 3/31/2021|
As a newly graduated certified dental assistant (CDA), I can attest to the vitality of infection control education for the dental assistant. Prior to my education, I had no concept of what goes into having a dental operatory "clean" for the next patient. In all honesty, I did not know that instruments were used on other patients (sterilized afterward, of course). This is one of the main reasons why I believe that dental assistants in Virginia should be infection control certified- because our patients simply do not know. When someone sits in the dental chair, they have no idea whether or not the operator had been properly cleaned, if the instruments are sterile, or if the care they are about to receive is, most importantly, sanitary. The dental assistant is the person who is generally responsible for the cleanliness aspect of a patient's dental visit. We make sure that instruments are clean, rooms are clean, and that there is no cross-contamination between patients, the dental team, or the community. Therefore, I believe that education and training in this vital aspect of infection control should be apart of the standard Virginia has for dental assistants.
There has not been a more concerning time in recent history than right now to be cautious and educated on infection control. Every single person in the whole world has been affected by the COVID pandemic in one way or another. It seems like every patient I see has something to say about the pandemic and what the dental profession is doing to keep them safe and healthy. Having my infection control training, I have the education and knowledge to assure my patient that the guidelines we are following, in reference to the pandemic and ICE training, are at the highest level of sterility.
In addition to these reasons, I believe that dental assistants in Virginia should be ICE certified to protect themselves. As the saying goes, "you don't know what you don't know". However, in the dental setting, I do not believe that is a good excuse for any behavior, whether intentional or unintentional, should be excused. If you think about healthcare, in a nutshell, no other field of practice (I.E nursing, physical therapy, pharmacology, Physician assistant, EMT) is legally allowed to practice without some sort of certification or formal education. Even nursing assistants (CNA's) have to be certified before they are allowed to help an elderly person use the restroom. So, my question is, why is it still ok that dental assistants are allowed to practice in Virginia without any form of education with the (possible) exception of RHS?
I believe that this requirement would benefit the patient, practitioner, and community through the enhancement of knowledge and awareness in a key member of the dental team. Dental Assistants do so much for the practice of dentistry. They are the quintessential glue that holds the dental team together and I cannot think of one downfall of requiring dental assistants to have a little knowledge on controlling infection.
Kendal Wagner, CDA