If there is one question we get asked the most, it’s “What job can I get while completing the NDEB process?”
We get it.
With NDEB exam fees, travel costs, and caring for your family in a new country, the weight of needing a steady income while training to become a certified dentist in Ontario is heavy. The trouble is that the job market for an international dentist can seem very limited when you are working towards your dental equivalency.
Through the years, our trainees have taken up various roles, such as dental assisting or leadership positions in a dental office, without the need to be fully “certified.” Nevertheless, in Ontario, there are legal requirements you need to know about. We asked our Compliance & Education Specialist, Dr. Lesia Waschuk, to outline three possible job opportunities you can take up in a dental office or commercial dental laboratory and the duties you can perform as allowed within our provincial regulatory framework for the oral health professions.
Let’s dive in.
1) Working as a dental assistant or receptionist
As an international dentist, you could work as a chairside dental assistant or a dental receptionist in a dental practice, independent dental hygiene practice or denturism practice without certification by the Ontario Dental Assistants Association.
2) Working as a treatment coordinator
Some dental offices have treatment coordinators who also don’t need to be certified or licenced; however, in Ontario, communicating a diagnosis as the cause of a patient’s symptoms is a controlled act restricted to dentists. It’s important to understand it is a dentist’s legal obligation to obtain the patient’s informed consent to treatment, so there is some information that the dentist must provide to the patient themself.
In a treatment coordinator role, your responsibilities could range from providing general information about the nature and timeline for treatment or arranging an appointment schedule to making financial arrangements for payment with the patient or the individual responsible for the patient’s account. Additionally, you could provide information about the mechanics of treatment, review audiovisual recordings or interactive online learning material with the patient, supply written information (as requested by the patient or directed by the dentist), or show models or examples of devices the dentist has prescribed. The dentist is responsible for discussing the prognosis, risks, side effects and expected (therapeutic or cosmetic) benefits and answering any questions related to the patient’s clinical condition or alternative forms of treatment that could be provided.
3) Working as an (uncertified) lab technician
Without certification, it is possible to work as a lab technician in a commercial dental laboratory under the supervision of a dentist or registered dental technologist; you can also work in private practice under the supervision of a dentist in an in-office dental laboratory.
In this role, though, you cannot identify yourself as a dental technician or dental technologist because that is a protected title in Ontario, and you would need to be registered (licenced) with the College of Dental Technologists of Ontario in order to use it. In any case, you would not be providing any services directly to patients, and you would not be performing any intraoral procedures.
Now, there are a few other statutory requirements that you should be aware of if you want to perform these functions in Ontario:
If you want to be able to take dental radiographs as prescribed by an RCDSO-registered dentist:
In order to expose dental radiographs that have been prescribed by a dentist who is registered in Ontario, you need to be “HARP-certified.”
The Healing Arts Radiation Protection (HARP) Act is a provincial statute; the X-Ray Safety code is a regulation that further sets out the installation, testing and quality assurance requirements for diagnostic radiographic equipment and the qualifications of “dental x-ray workers” who can operate the equipment. To operate diagnostic radiographic equipment in Ontario, you would have to complete a full dental assisting program or course in dental radiography that has been approved by the Director of X-ray Safety at the Ministry of Health. (Members of the RCDSO and the CDHO are able to take X-rays by virtue of their license.)
We suggest looking for a program that is “HARP-approved.” If you are considering taking a dental assisting program (level I or level II) at a community college or private career college, or a continuing education course in dental radiography in Ontario, contact us, and we will let you know whether the program is on the updated list of HARP-approved programs and courses that we have received from the Ministry.
If you want to be able to perform intraoral procedures as a level II dental assistant:
To perform intraoral procedures (that are considered in the public domain and are not considered controlled acts) as a level II dental assistant, you would have to successfully complete the National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) examinations.
You can register for the NDAEB exams on the basis of your qualifications as an international dentist, and if you have registered for the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) examinations, you can use the documentation of your registration with the NDEB when you register with the NDAEB. You do not need to have your educational credentials reassessed again in that case.
If you have not completed a formal program in dental assisting in Canada, you will need to successfully complete both the NDAEB Written Examination and the NDAEB Clinical Practice Evaluation to attain your NDAEB certificate. You can find further information about how to register for the NDAEB exams on the NDAEB website.
If you want to perform additional intraoral procedures as a level II dental assistant:
Level II dental assistants in Ontario who have successfully completed a supplemental course in orthodontics or restorative dentistry for level II dental assistants can now also perform (prescribed) orthodontic or restorative procedures, respectively. You can read more about the requirements for the two supplemental courses in the RCDSO Standard of Practice for the Performance of Intra-Oral Procedures that are Not Controlled Acts by Preventive Dental Assistants, Level II Dental Assistants and Registered Dental Hygienists.
Further, Prep Doctors offers a supplemental course in orthodontics for level II dental assistants. To learn more or to register for our next session in June, take a look at our Practical Orthodontic Skills course page.
As you can see, a range of opportunities exists even while you are working your way through the equivalency process. The best thing you can do is reach out to different dental clinics to see what options are available and keep your eyes peeled for our next blog post about other positions in the dental industry that our doctors have taken up.
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