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SOUTH EASTON — Southeastern Regional Superintendent Luis Lopes and Southeastern Technical Institute (STI) Director Patricia Illsley are pleased to share that STI’s Dental Assisting Program has been reaccredited once again by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

STI was notified of its successful re-accreditation following the Commission’s meeting and official vote in January. Being CODA-Accredited is the ultimate source of protection for our students – it promotes and monitors the continuous quality and improvement of the education that we provide.

As part of the accreditation process, STI’s Dental Assisting program submits an application and self-analysis of its curriculum, facilities, faculty, admissions process, finances, program outcomes and more. CODA team members then visit the school for an on-site review and conduct interviews. Following the site visit, the team writes a report of its findings and evaluation of whether the program meets accreditation standards, and submits the report to the Commission for an official vote.

CODA conducted STI’s site visit Nov. 2-3, 2021. The program was found to have met or exceeded all standards, resulting in accreditation approval without any reporting requirements.

“We are thrilled to have earned accreditation status once again, which sets apart our program and demonstrates our commitment to meeting the key standards and best practices that CODA identifies for programs across the country,” Director Illsley said. “There is a lot of opportunity in the dental assisting profession, which is expected to continue to grow, and we pride ourselves on providing our students with an expert and distinguished education that will prepare them well to fill the many open positions in the industry.”

Dental assistants help in direct patient care, assist dentists during treatment, maintain records and make appointments, among other responsibilities. In Massachusetts, specific duties vary depending on the individual’s level of licensure.

According to a May 2021 poll from the American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute, 35.8% of owner dentists nationwide are recruiting dental assistants, an increase since October 2020. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 11% from 2020 to 2030, faster than the average for all occupations.

In Massachusetts, dental assistants must be licensed. Students can receive on-the-job training or sit for the Dental Assisting National Board exam (DANB). Students who attend a CODA-accredited school are eligible to take all three components – Infection Control, Radiology and General Chairside – of the exam. STI graduates who pass the DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam are licensed at the CDA level. Students who attend a non-accredited program must work 3,500 hours in the field to be eligible to sit for only the General Chairside portion of the DANB exam.

CODA-accredited dental assisting programs are up for reaccreditation every seven years. STI’s Dental Assisting program has been fully accredited by CODA since 1983 and held provisional approval from 1972-1983. The 2021 site visit was the eighth site visit for the program.

STI is currently accepting applications for the class of 2023. Priority deadline is May 15th! Those interested in learning more about STI’s Dental Assisting program or submitting an application can do so here.

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