Infection control has gained heightened importance over the past couple of years, and many dental professionals are eager to expand their knowledge in this area to keep their offices as safe as possible.
On Dec. 29, 2021, the first group of oral health professionals earned Certified in Dental Infection Prevention and Control (CDIPC) certification. The CDIPC certification was developed by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) in collaboration with the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP).
The CDIPC certification is the first clinically focused dental infection control certification in the United States. The exam is rigorous and requires demonstrating not only knowledge of infection control guidelines and standards, but also the critical-thinking skills to apply them in a variety of scenarios.
“Congratulations to everyone who earned CDIPC certification,” says DANB CEO Laura Skarnulis. “Earning this designation takes preparation, dedication and diligence. It signals to patients, employers and colleagues that you are knowledgeable, capable, and committed to dental practice safety.”
“Earning CDIPC certification is an impressive achievement that elevates the profession,” says OSAP Executive Director Michelle Lee. “It also benefits dental practices and patients by ensuring precautions are taken to make every dental visit a safe visit.”
Those who earned CDIPC certification in December did so through a special testing event. The CDIPC certification will launch in spring 2022.
First group excited to earn certification
When Celeste Stalberger, CDIPIC, RDH, CSPDT, had the chance to earn CDIPC certification in December, she jumped at the opportunity. She was part of the first group in the country to receive the new certification.
“It feels pretty cool,” says Stalberger, who has been a dental hygienist for 28 years and serves as the lead sterilization technician and infection control coordinator at Cass Lake Indian Health Service in Minnesota. “We’re kind of the leaders.”
Stalberger’s employer is currently working toward earning accreditation through the Joint Commission. As the hospital continues to develop and refine standard operating procedures and training, it’s imperative for employees to have proper credentials.
By earning this certification, dental professionals can demonstrate their competence in infection control procedures and commitment to staying up to date on ever-changing protocols. Certification can not only help dental professionals excel in their current positions, but it can also help them stand out if they’re looking to advance in their careers.
Michelle Sanchez, CDIPC, RDH, A.S., has worked in dentistry for two decades. After working as a dental hygienist for 18 years, she recently transitioned to doing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and CPR training for dental practices in Arizona. She says her new CDIPC certification is invaluable as she helps offices establish proper infection control procedures.
“I wanted to know more information on what offices need and to make sure that their protocols are set up correctly,” she explains. “Because I teach OSHA classes, I kind of already knew a lot of it right off the top of my head, but there were some things on the exam that I definitely needed to brush up my skills on.”
Sanchez adds that the certification gives her additional credibility when she visits practices or gives lectures.
“Having those CDIPC credentials behind your name helps validate that you know what you’re doing,” she says.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized the need for strong infection control procedures in the dental office. CDIPC certification helps ensure that dental professionals are on the cutting edge so patients and dental staff are as safe as possible in the office.
“I’m making sure that I’m staying on top of things, especially with the protocols changing so quickly,” says Sanchez.
In addition to the knowledge it provides, CDIPC certification can give dental professionals more influence with their practices to enact appropriate safety protocols.
“When I was in private practice, it was a lot harder to voice my opinion,” explains Stalberger, who has been a hygienist for more than 25 years. “And I think being certified will help a lot of those people in their situations fight for what they need to be safe and to have safe visits for their patients.”
That’s why Stalberger recommends other dental professionals pursue CDIPC certification, too.
“I don’t think anybody who started the process would have any regrets at all,” she says.
How to get started
The CDIPC certification exam will officially launch in spring 2022. Candidates must fulfill education and experience requirements to be eligible for the exam, which can include holding Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification through DANB.