A career as a dental patient care coordinator can be pursued with a high school diploma, on-the-job training, and certification; state requirements vary. It is an option to pursue postsecondary studies to prepare to enter this field, and graduation from an accredited program may increase job prospects. Certification in CPR and some dental procedures, such as x-rays, is required by most states.
The patient care coordinator (PCC) is a specialized role typically performed by experienced professionals, including dental assistants. PCCs in the dental care field are patient advocates who generally have experience working in a dentistry office as assistants or technicians. Because dental patient care coordinators often perform duties as a dental assistant as well, the information for the careers is very similar. PCCs in dentists' offices, for instance, should still complete dental assistant training and may need to hold the same certifications and/or licenses to work.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED; completion of a formal education program in dental assisting or, in some cases, completion of on-the-job training in the field|
|Other Requirements||Certification and licensing requirements vary by state and job duties|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||18% for all dental assistants|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$35,980 for all dental assistants|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Duties for Dental Patient Care Coordinators
The PCC duties can include spending time getting to know the patient and learning about their specific dental needs and goals, supporting the dental patient throughout the process and welcoming new patients. The PCC may conduct a preliminary exam and relay information to the dentist prior to the clinical exam. Depending on the dentist's evaluation, the PCC may conduct diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, and work with the dentist to organize a comprehensive treatment plan. The PCC may also set a follow-up consultation with the patient, present the treatment plan, determine insurance calculations, discuss financial options and be available to answer any questions.
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Requirements for Dental Patient Care Coordinators
Dentists may require PCCs to have dental assistant skills and experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental assistants can learn on the job or through formal training programs (www.bls.gov). Many programs require a high school diploma and completion of specific coursework. The BLS also notes that most states require certification from an accredited program, as well as a separate license or certification for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and certain dental procedures, such as x-rays.
Since the PCC is the point of contact for patients, having a caring, friendly personality and professional appearance may be required by employers. The PCC may also need to communicate medical and financial information clearly and be resourceful in arriving at solutions that benefit both the patient and dental practice. The PCC contributes to the success of the dental practice by selling treatment plans, so customer service skills and fluency in a second language may also be career requirements.
Career Outlook for Dental Patient Care Coordinators
The BLS predicted that the demand for dental assistants would increase 18% from 2014 to 2024, which may be due to an increase in the aging population, as well as an improvement in dental care. In 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for dental assistants was $35,980. Dental assistants who wish to participate more in the success of the practice can have a greater impact on the patient experience and may find increasing opportunities to specialize as a PCC.
Patient care coordinators in dental offices will process new patients and may conduct diagnostic tests. Some of their duties are those of a dental assistant, and dental assistant training will be necessary. Patient care coordinators may also deal with medical and financial information and sell treatment plans.