Dental Assisting Current Students

The Dental Assisting program at Kirkwood prepares current students to help dental patients with polishing teeth, taking X-rays, mixing materials, and sterilizing instruments. Kirkwood gives students the opportunity to practice these skills during clinical rotations—but there are important program requirements to note before jumping into these real-world experiences.

Following are compliance guidelines, registration information, and clinical rotation requirements for current Dental Assisting students.

Keep in mind the following information that will be helpful when registering for next semester's classes:

  • Priority registration information has been sent to you via email for the upcoming semester.
  • Register for classes through MyHub. Watch this video to learn how to register for classes.
  • Please choose one group and register for all courses listed, unless you are advised by program faculty to do otherwise.
  • Remember to run your degree audit (through MyHub) to ensure you are on track for graduation.

Questions? Call 319-398-5566 or visit Allied Health Department in 2164 Linn Hall for assistance.

A technical orientation will be scheduled during your first week of Dental Assisting classes. Please note that if you are in class during this time you will be released to attend the orientation. This orientation is program-specific and separate from new student orientation. Please refer to the compliance section in the program handbook on Talon for the Dental Assisting Program.

Questions about technical orientation? Contact:

Kristee Malmberg

Dental Assisting Program Director


Students are required to attend three clinic rotations in the program. Clinic one, rotation one is during the second semester and clinic two, rotations two and three are during the third semester.

Clinic One, Rotation One—Hours

During your private practice externship a total of 48 hours must be fulfilled during the six, eight scheduled clinic days for clinic one, rotation one. This rotation must be completed in a General Dentistry office only.

Clinic Two, Rotations Two and Three—Hours

During your private practice externships, a total of 168 hours must be fulfilled during the second half of the third semester for clinic two, rotations two and rotation three.  

Each rotation will total 84 hours, with an average of 32 hours a week. These rotations may be in a General Dentistry office or a Specialty Dentistry office.

Clinical Skills

Clinical skills can only be obtained through participation and practice in each clinical setting. Any absence from the private practice office will be noted on the evaluation and attendance form submitted by the dental staff. 

Clinic Rotation Assignments

Students will be provided with clinic site locations by the clinic instructor during the course. Students are responsible for setting up their rotations based on the guidelines given by the instructor. Students will not be allowed to create their own schedule if it is not agreeable with both the instructor and the clinical site.

Attendance is mandatory. The total amount of clinical hours necessary must be completed by the end of the semester. 

If the student is negligent at their clinic and is dismissed from the clinical site, an alternate clinic site may not be available. Misconduct could be grounds for failure and potential program dismissal.

Requirements to attend clinic one and clinic two

  1. All students must be currently certified in CPR.
  2. Mandatory OSHA training must have been completed through Kirkwood and be current.
  3. The student must be registered for clinic and tuition must be paid.
  4. All previous or concurrent program course grades must be acceptable.
  5. A current, complete physical must be on file with CastleBranch.
  6. Students must have received the Hepatitis B vaccination series, as well as have a current TB test on file with CastleBranch. 
  7. Students must have current insurance.
  8. Students must have current background check through CastleBranch.

Student Clinical Rotation

Students will be placed in private dental offices for three different rotations.

  1. The first private practice experience will be after they complete their clinic at the dental college. Those experiences must be in a general practice in the Cedar Rapids or Iowa City area.
  2. Later in the program they will have two additional rotations in a private office.
  3. The latter experience can include offices outside the local area and can include specialty practices.

Please see the times below in which students may request to do an internship in your office. Students will need to complete anywhere from 48 - 84 hours within a dental office per rotation.

Student Clinical Rotation FAQs

What preparation will students have prior to starting their private practice experience?
By the time students are placed in the offices they will have minimal clinical experience in chairside assisting and x-ray exposing. Prior to their last two rotations they will have some classroom exposure to receptionist duties.

During these private rotations we hope they will gain as much experience in these areas as possible. Adaptability and increasing chairside efficiency are our basic clinical goals.

Are students paid for their time?
Students are not to be paid during this affiliation. It is part of their training. It is necessary, however, that we have a written agreement between each office and Kirkwood Community College. If you would like to review the agreement, we will be happy to send you a copy.

What is expected of our office?
Our instructors will be communicating/visiting with your office from time to time to discuss the progress of each student. Students will be given information that they should share with the office regarding conference times and paperwork involved. They will also provide the office with a syllabus upon request.

A student evaluation will be required from the office and must be completed at the end of the rotation period. This will require you to assign a letter grade to the student. You will receive the evaluation information when the instructor comes for the clinic site visit.  

The purpose of this affiliation is to provide the students with realistic, practical experience and not just observation. Observation is a valuable tool but is not the main focus for these rotations.

What happens if I agree to provide a learning opportunity for a student?
If you volunteer to have a student, your name will be added to the list on our program website. Interested students may call your office to arrange a visit/interview.

The interview serves two purposes: 1) it provides a practice interview for the student; and 2) it provides your office an opportunity to select the student you feel you can work with. We cannot insure that every office will have a student or that there will be multiple student interviews.

If I agree to have a student will I be required to have a student anytime they call?
Dental offices are not required to have students for every rotation. Recommended dental office lists assist the student to know which offices are willing to have a student.

If offices decide never to have a student again they can contact the program and have their office removed.



If you have questions, contact the Allied Health Department at 319-398-5566 or visit at 2164 Linn Hall.