Mar 01, 2024  
2014-2015 Catalog-EXPIRED 

Dental Assisting Certificate

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(Students should initially enroll in Code 322.)

GRCC Program:

Few careers offer the diversity and flexibility that dental assisting does. There are opportunities for part-time and fulltime employment as chairside, office and laboratory work assistants. Most dental assistants work in private dental offices. Others, however, may work in dental schools, hospital dental departments, public health departments, dental laboratories, or public and private dental clinics. There are also opportunities to work in the offices of dental specialists such as pediatric dentists and orthodontists. Registered dental assistants are often in short supply, making GRCC graduates highly employable.

This curriculum allows students to qualify, in less than one year, for jobs as both Certified and Registered Dental Assistants. The GRCC program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association (ADA) and approved by the Michigan Board of Dentistry.

The dental assisting program at GRCC can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. A full-time student is able to complete the program in ten months. A part-time student requires 20 months over a two-year period to complete the program.

Students learn through a three-way combination of classroom, laboratory and clinical experiences. Not only are the latest dental techniques stressed throughout the curriculum, but students also learn how to use computers in modern dental offices.

Following completion of the 10-month curriculum (fulltime), students may return to GRCC and earn an Associate in Applied Arts and Sciences degree by taking eight more courses in the liberal arts.

At the conclusion of their first ten months of training and education at GRCC, graduates will have earned a GRCC Certificate in Dental Assisting. The graduate is eligible to sit for the Dental Assisting National Board examination to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). The graduate is also eligible to sit for the Michigan RDA Examination to become a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) in Michigan.

Requirements for licensure as an RDA in the state of Michigan are as stated in the Michigan Public Health Code, Public Act 368 of 1978. The new applicant for licensure will be asked about felony convictions, misdemeanor convictions resulting in imprisonment, and convictions for possession of controlled substances (including those involving alcohol related to motor vehicle violations). Previous convictions may prevent the applicant from receiving a license.

Program Requirements:

In order to be eligible for admission into the Dental Assisting program, students must:

  1. Be high school graduates or have passed the high school equivalency GED (General Educational Development) Test.
  2. Have a high school and college GPA of at least 2.0.
  3. Take the Accuplacer test.  On the Accuplacer test the student must score a minimum of 41 on the algebra or a 65 on the arithmetic section and at least a 70.4 on the reading section.
  4. Complete a preliminary criminal background check form and pass the background check.  Students should also be aware that before entering the actual dental assisting program, they will be required to submit a more extensive criminal background check in the form of being fingerprinted by Campus Police.  The PDF form for this process is available on the curriculum webpage for each program.  There is currently a charge for this service. 
  5. Candidates may apply for entry into the program at the end of their junior year in high school.
  6. Once in the program, students must successfully complete all Dental Assisting (DAA), and DXX courses in the sequence indicated for the professional curriculum.  Successful completion is defined as a grade of C- (78%) as defined by the Dental Auxiliary Programs Grading Scale, within two attempts.  It is the responsibility of the student to complete all courses listed in the professional curriculum.  If a grade below C- is receive don the first attempt in a DAA, or DXX course, the student will be denied continued progression in the professional curriculum.  If the student wishes to repeat a DAA or DXX course, the student must meet with the Dental Auxiliary Program Director to develop a Success Plan.  If on the second attempt of a DAA or DXX course, a student receives a grade lower than a “C-“, the student will be dismissed from the program.  If a student fails any two DAA or DXX course regardless of when it occurs in the program, the student will be withdrawn from the Dental Assisting Program.  A student must be able to complete the program within three years of the initial start of the professional curriculum.
  7. An estimated cost sheet for the dental assisting program can be found at

 Essential Abilities

The Grand Rapids Community College Dental Auxiliary Department faculty has specified essential abilities and technical standards critical to the success of students in any GRCC Dental Assisting program. Students must demonstrate these essential abilities to succeed in their program of study. Qualified applicants are expected to meet all admission criteria and matriculating students are expected to meet all progression criteria, as well as these essential abilities and technical standards with or without reasonable accommodations 

1.      Essential judgment skills to include: The dental assisting student will need to develop the skills necessary to relate to others, to demonstrate the characteristics of self-awareness, awareness of others and the ability to communicate that awareness.

2.      Essential physical/neurological functions to include: Students will also be required to perform certain physical functions in order to successfully complete the program. They will perform them throughout their coursework and clinical experience and later in their employment. These functions are not conditions for admission into the program; they are listed for the purpose of alerting students to what physical functions may be required of them.

  • Mobility: In the course of performing dental assisting duties, the dental assistant may have to sit, stand, and reach overhead while standing or sitting. A dental assistant must be able to move quickly should an emergency occur.
  • Hearing: A dental assistant must be able to hear faint sounds such as those generated while taking a blood pressure or examining the teeth with dental instruments.
  • Visual Discrimination: A dental assistant must have sufficient vision to be able to discern gradations of colors and to see details that are not readily apparent in the mouth.
  • Coordination and Manual Dexterity: A dental assistant needs to possess hand-eye coordination skills and fine and gross motor skills to manipulate dental instruments and equipment with both upper extremities. Be free of pre-existing conditions that limit manual dexterity of their hands (example: carpal tunnel syndrome).

3.      Essential communication skills to include: A dental assistant must be able to communicate both orally and in writing with other healthcare providers and clients. Working as a dental assistant requires knowledge of communication through body language as well.

4.      Essential emotional coping skills: ability to manage potential stressors that accompany tasks necessary to safely engage in the practice of dental assisting as determined by professional standards of practice.

5.      Essential intellectual/conceptual skills to include: ability to measure, calculate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate to engage competently in the safe practice of dental assisting.

 6.      Other essential behavioral attributes: ability to engage in activities consistent with safe dental assisting practice without demonstrated behaviors of addiction to, abuse of, or dependence on alcohol or other drugs that may impair behavior or judgment. The student must demonstrate responsibility and accountability for actions as a student in the Dental Auxiliary Department and as a developing dental assisting professional consistent with accepted standards of practice.

Grand Rapids Community College strives to be more than ADA compliant. We strive to be accessible and welcoming to all students of all abilities. After reviewing the Essential Abilities/Technical Standards for this program; your responsibilities as a student entail determining if you can complete all associated coursework either:

       A.  With Accommodation. I am otherwise qualified to meet the same academic standards as any other student entering the program. However, based on a medically documented condition or diagnosis, I would qualify for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990). I will meet with Disability Support Services on campus to arrange those accommodations in an interactive process with the Dental Auxiliary Department.

B.   Without Accommodation. I am able to complete the program without need for reasonable accommodation or modification. In the event my medical documentation reveals otherwise or a condition manifests that would necessitate an accommodation; it is my responsibility to inform a responsible authority figure within the Dental Auxiliary Department and work with Disability Support Services to see if a reasonable accommodation or modification can be made.

If you have a medically documented condition or diagnosis, please contact the (field of study) office, or contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at or by phone at 616.234.4140 to arrange accommodations through our interactive process.



Course Requirements for the One-Year Certificate:

Fall Semester

Total Credits: 18

Winter Semester

Total Credits: 20


Total Credits: 9

Total Credits: 47

* CH = Contact hours: The number of class hours of attendance required per week.

Transfer Opportunities:

The Transfer Guide for many bachelor’s degree majors offered at Michigan colleges and universities is available at the Counseling and Career Center and online at

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