DANB certificants aim to elevate their infection control expertise

Leanne Mathieu Kramer and Sheila Lassiter

After several infection control breaches in dental settings made national headlines, the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP), DANB and the DALE Foundation formed a collaboration to spearhead the development of an educational certificate program — the OSAP-DALE Foundation Dental Infection Prevention and Control Certificate Program™ (the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program) — and two professional certifications (currently in development).

Already, several DANB certificants have begun to pursue the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program and elevate their knowledge and expertise.

Leanne Mathieu Kramer, CDA, CDPMA, a compliance trainer with a background in dental assisting, has already completed the first two steps of the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program and looks forward to taking the third and final step. 

In her role, she travels to dental offices in Minnesota, helping teams to write infection control policy manuals and access related training. Mathieu Kramer believes that by completing the first two steps of the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program, she’s gained more tools to help dental clients understand the importance of infection control compliance. 

“I have found over the years that when you educate and help dental professionals understand why compliance is important, it is more likely to be followed,” she says. “I was drawn to completing the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program because doing so will further my infection control understanding and give me the depth to be able to help clients, and give them more resources and information.”

Sheila Lassiter, CDA, is also in the process of completing the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program and looks forward to earning the certificate. 

Lassiter works as an in-office trainer, a technology adviser for a large dental supply company, and a chairside assistant. She says cross-contamination and improper sterilization processing are some of the most common issues she sees in dental offices. 

She believes the knowledge she has gained through completion of steps 1 and 2 of the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program will allow her to be even more effective in her numerous roles. Specifically, “I have a much better understanding regarding dental unit waterlines and the importance of initial testing and maintenance,” Lassiter says.

Tracie Wright, CDA — a dental assisting instructor with approximately 15 years of teaching experience, who also has completed the educational program’s first two steps — is preparing to take step 3, the eHandbook Assessment, as well. “I have been working hard,” she says. 

Like Lassiter, Wright agrees that one of the essential elements the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program has brought to the forefront a topic she ensures is covered in her dental assisting curriculum.

Overall, what attracted Wright to this educational program was the opportunity to enhance and share her infection control knowledge as an educator. “I decided I wanted to become an expert in the field of infection control so I could pass that expertise on to my students. This way, when they go out into the real world, they can take that with them and be prepared to step in as an infection control coordinator in any office,” Wright elaborates.

Wright not only encourages students to take DANB’s Infection Control exam, but she also suggests they consider the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program, emphasizing the importance of overall continuing dental education.

“I stress to my students all the time that they have to make sure they’re doing continuing education,” says Wright. “The dental field is constantly changing, with new things to learn all the time. In order to ensure the safety of the patients and dental professionals, you have to make it a priority to stay current in infection control. Any dental professional can complete the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program — there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.”

Lassiter agrees that by completing the program, dental professionals can ensure they are more knowledgeable and accountable.

“I have been in dentistry almost 30 years, so I have seen a lot of changes in dentistry,” she says. “Advancements in technology have made us think and act differently when it comes to infection control. When I first started working, there weren’t any intraoral cameras, digital films or computer-aided design and manufacturing technology. We now use these types of equipment and must know how to properly apply infection control practices between each patient.”

Thus, dental team members must pursue pertinent, supplemental education, Lassiter says, noting that this is important to avoid becoming stagnant or working with outdated information.

“We all know someone who has been working for years and is stuck in his or her ways, with a 

‘this is the way I’ve always done it’ mentality,” she continues. “Accepting change can be difficult for some, but as I mentioned previously, dentistry has changed. Patients trust we know what we are doing, that we know how to work in a safe and healthy environment.”

Mathieu Kramer feels strongly about this, as well. In fact, she believes that “for those who are in charge of infection control for the office, completing the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program should be a requirement.”

Certificants set their sights on new OSAP-DANB dental infection control certifications

In addition to launching the OSAP-DALE Foundation Certificate Program, as part of the collaboration, OSAP and DANB are developing two professional certifications:

  • Certified in Dental Infection Prevention and Control™ (CDIPC™)
  • Dental Industry Specialist in Infection Prevention and Control™ (DISIPC™)

The OSAP-DANB CDIPC certification is intended for all dental team members, educators, consultants and supervisors.

The OSAP-DANB DISIPC certification is intended for sales representatives and other professionals who work for the companies that manufacture or distribute dental infection control products; dental practice managers; state regulatory board inspectors or investigators; and anyone else who meets the eligibility requirements.

The pretest for OSAP-DANB CDIPC and DISIPC certifications will be held later this year, and the certifications are expected to be launched in early 2021. Already, there is excitement and anticipation about these new professional certifications.

“I am very interested in the OSAP-DANB DISIPC certification,” says Lassiter.

Similarly, Mathieu Kramer has her sights set on pursuing OSAP-DANB CDIPC certification. “I work with dentists around the state, so holding this certification would help show them that I’m qualified to help them with their needs,” she says. “It would give more credibility to what I’m doing.”

Wright adds she’s “absolutely” interested in pursuing OSAP-DANB certification, to demonstrate her commitment to ensuring the protection of both dental patients and professionals.

For more information about these certifications, visit www.dentalinfectioncontrol.org.