ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Area high school students can get hands-on training and a head start in their careers through courses available in the Belmont-Harrison Vocational School District.
Programs such as Dental Assisting at the Belmont Career Center give students a chance to receive state-of-the-art training and experience in the classroom while still in high school, which gives them an advantage when entering the job market.
Students who complete the program can become dental assistants directly out of high school.
They also have many other options in the field of dentistry and can further their education to become an expanded function dental assistant, dental hygienist or dentist.
The program offers a wide range of training, including preventative dentistry, dental materials, terminology, lab skills, x-rays, medical emergency and chair side techniques.
Junior students learn the basics needed to become a dental assistant. Senior students expand their knowledge by observing and working with dentists two days a week on field training.
The juniors and seniors, through a certified Red Cross instructor, become certified in CPR, AED and First Aid.
Upon completion of the program, students can find employment as an assistant in a dentist office, work in a dental lab, become a dental sales company representative, or work for an insurance company, military or specialty office such as an orthodontist or endodontist office.
During Dental Health Month in February, the classes welcome children from the local Head Start program, who also get first-hand experience in the world of dental care.
“We provide four different stations,” said Debbie Hawthorne, instructor of the Dental Assisting program at the Belmont Career Center. “We create a simulated appointment that helps get them to be comfortable with going to the dentist’s office.”
Students at the Career Center receive an academic course load to complete high school graduation requirements, as well as meeting requirements for college.
Career Center students are offered math, science, social studies, English and related technology classes, and can also receive credits in health and physical education.
For more information on the Dental Assisting program or the other programs in the Belmont-Harrison Vocational School District, call the Belmont Career Center at (740) 695-9130 or the Harrison Career Center at (740) 942-2148.
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