Dental Assisting

Things to Know When Considering a Nursing or Dental Career

Dental AssistingNovember 03, 2022

November is National Career Development Month. It’s a month to consider your career path, beef up your resume, create a LinkedIn profile, and dive into other activities that go with career development. Are you considering career paths or retooling for a new career? If you’ve been noodling on nursing or dental careers and aren’t sure which way to go, here are some things to consider. 

They’re In Demand

Careers in nursing or dental are both in-demand careers, and in both professions, you work directly with patients to provide care. Between 2021-2031, jobs for dental hygienist and dental assistant jobs are projected to grow 9% and 8% faster than average, respectively. Nursing is projected to grow 6% nationally but could be much higher in different regions. For example, New Jersey, Texas, and California are expected to face nursing shortages by 2030.  

What a Dental Career Involves

In the field of dental care, you have the choice to become a dental assistant or a hygienist (hygienist requires more education). In both roles, you work under the supervision of a dentist, but a hygienist usually works more independently. In that role, you’re in charge of cleanings, taking X-rays, applying sealants, screening for gum disease, and educating patients on effective tooth and gum care. 

As a dental assistant, your role is to work more closely with the dentist, assisting them with procedures such as fillings or root canals by handing them instruments or holding suction equipment. You might also take a patient’s medical history, explain a procedure to the patient, and prep them for the procedure. 

Typically, you work predictable work-day hours in a dentist’s office. That’s a perk many people like because it’s easier for scheduling and family life.  

What to Know About the Field of Nursing 

Like those who work in a dental clinic, registered nurses work directly with patients. Similarly, you work under the supervision of a physician, but unlike the dental field, a nurse could work in a variety of settings with less predictable schedules. You might have a day job in a family care practice or urgent care facility, or you could work evenings or nights in a hospital or long-term care facility. Nursing can be more flexible but sometimes less predictable. 

Your daily duties might differ depending on where you work, but typically patient care includes things like taking blood pressure and recording weight when a patient arrives, assessing patient symptoms, giving vaccines or other medications, performing diagnostic tests, creating and working with treatment plans, collaborating with other medical staff, and possibly overseeing other staff like certified nursing assistants. 

Either field could be a great fit, depending on your preferences. In nursing, you’re caring for the whole patient, while in dentistry, you’re caring for a patient’s oral care. When considering your career goals, think about the kind of work you like, what kind of schedule you might prefer. You should also think about whether you like the more measured pace and relationship development with patients that you might get in a dental or family practice clinic, or if a faster-paced environment like an emergency room is more to your liking. 

Whether you choose to pursue a career in nursing or dental, St. Paul’s School of Nursing—with campuses in Queens and Staten Island—can help you get started.  We offer degree programs in both dental assisting and associate degree in nursing (ADN). Visit our website, or call (855) 822-3018 to speak to one of our admissions representatives or to schedule a campus tour.