Brought to you by Open Colleges

Dental dynamo has course to thank for exciting national career prospects

by alina

Wherever he wants to be based, Joon Soo Park of Nedlands, Western Australia, has his career prospects wide open. This dental student did his HLT31812 Certificate III in Dental Assisting via Open Colleges in record time!

“I would thoroughly recommend Joon to any employer and would have no hesitation employing him if he were available”.

Joon is a student with lots of career focus

All Open Colleges courses are self-paced. This means all students receive a maximum time frame in which to complete their course.Through his hard work, dedication and previous experience in the field, Joon was able to complete his course in a shorter time frame than normal. Moving through his course quite quickly enabled Joon to pursue his university studies – and now has the experience and industry support to help achieve the dental career he desires. Joon Soo Park is an exemplary young man – the current University of WA Dentistry student also has a prior Pharmaceutical degree.

However, he admits that previous studies were difficult due to a lack of foundational knowledge in the field – so he enrolled in the HLT31812 Certificate III in Dental Assisting to gain practical skills to complement his tertiary studies.

Doing a Certificate III course in addition to a Bachelor’s degree

“I thought that by doing dental assisting, it would give me good background knowledge and insider information of how the dental profession actually works”.

Due his university requirements, Joon completed his course in record time – the year long course took Joon less than two months to finish! Joon’s pace would not be typical for this course, as the maximum time frame is 12 months, but as all Open Colleges courses are self-paced, students can do them in their own time.

This makes Open Colleges an ideal option for any aspiring student also wanting fast-track their studies (or have a fast career change). Hard working students do not have to “wait for the rest of the class to catch up” if they are super-motivated.

“To be honest, I didn’t have much contact with other students”, Joon laughs. “Yes, it only took me 6 weeks to finish the whole thing – even though it’s normally a standardised one year course. I had to fast track and finish because that’s what needed to be done to fit in with my university schedule.”


Dental Assisting Studies

After the theory aspect of the course is completed online, students undertake 120 hours of structured workplace learning in an accredited dental practice, supervised by a qualified staff member. This is vital in helping students gain the hands-on experience they need to feel competent (and confident) with the theory elements they just learned.

“Securing placement after the course theory wasn’t difficult”, reassures Joon. “I handed in three CVs and got the next job on the spot”. Joon’s placement workplace also paid him a traineeship wage, which is not typical of most work placements but does occasionally occur.

The structure of an actual working environment is an exceptional benefit of learning that cannot be underestimated. “When I was doing the theory, I felt I learnt a lot, but I didn’t know practically how equipment actually worked! I learned so much more once I did my practical assessment”.


Dental Assisting Placement


Support in your online studies from your trainer

As well as favouring the hands-on application, Joon’s trainer and assessor Natalie was a stand out and a great support during his accelerated learning. The pair developed an excellent working relationship, with Joon thanking Natalie with a heartfelt letter at the end of his placement, accrediting her to his success.

“Natalie was one of the best trainers I’ve ever had”, Joon enthuses. “Every time I spoke to her on the phone to ask a random question (which was often!), she was so prompt and really enthusiastic every time”. Trainers and students usually connect via the student portal, OpenSpace, but can connect in different ways, email and phone being common too.

Help from industry experts, connected to the dental sector

Joon also loved the fact that Natalie was an experienced trainer, with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. “It’s amazing to learn from someone who knew what they were doing, not someone who came out fresh from dental school – or an academic with no practical application!”.

Joon’s focus and dedication to his studies leave him with excellent career prospects to explore.

“Right now, I have a lot of opportunities lined up”, he smiles. “My trainer and assessor Natalie said that if I go to Melbourne, she is happy to put me forward for some jobs. And I have industry connections via my university in Perth as well”.


Dental Practice

A gleaming recommendation from Joon’s workplace

Joon’s employer at the Ascot Dental Centre, Dr John K. Flynn also agrees; Joon a glowing letter of recommendation, citing the work of a trainee that “exceeded his expectations”.

“I would thoroughly recommend (Joon) to any employer and would have no hesitation employing him if he were available”, enthused Mr Flynn amongst many accolades attributing to Joon’s attitude and ability. “He was able to handle all duties in the surgery, took care ordering the stock, setting up the surgery, taking calls and making sure all accounts were paid on time”.

So what’s next for the aspiring dental surgeon?

In the next 5 years, Joon hopes to complete his three year dentistry degree and specialise in oral medicine or oral surgery. According to, the number of job openings for dental assistants is expected to be between 10,001 and 25,000 over the next 5 years.

At last count, there were approximately 21,400 people working as dental assistants and employment for dental assistants between now and 2017 is expected to grow very strongly. In an industry that is only set to grow, Joon is in good company to develop a rewarding career. With fundamental dental skills, as well as dental assisting knowledge, Joon has the tools to pursue what he wants.

 Photos by Mak Saint, Louisville Dentistry, badruddin ghazali, UTHealth, M State, INTERMEDLINE – thanks

Thinking of doing the same course?

The HLT31812 Certificate III in Dental Assisting equips students with the knowledge and skills to efficiently support a dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist during healthcare procedures. This includes maintaining high standards of infection control and assisting with practice administration.

Go to Open Colleges for more information on this course.

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