Future-Net offers real-world training for entry-level dental technicians

    LUIS REGO HAS TAKEN A PRO-active approach to dealing with the labor shortage in our industry: he started a training program to provide a pool of skilled applicants for laboratories in the southern California area, Rego, co-own­er of Smile Designs by Rego in Downey, California with his brothers, Juan and Nelson, has placed 64 technicians in more than 10 laboratories in Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties. Implemented in 2001, the technician program is just one of Future-Net's vo­cational training offerings, which also include courses on computers, account­ing, floral design, cake decorating, and medical billing and insurance coding,

The 17-week technician course costs $6,000 and teaches students the fundamentals of C&B waxing and model and die preparation; they are also ex­posed to porcelain buildup techniques. Using the PTC Classic System, students learn on real-world cases. "A number of dental practices supply us with impres­sions and model work after a case has been finished and our students treat them as if they are brand-new," says Rego, "This makes our program different from others that rely on 'ideal' training where, for example, students work with pristine, full-arch models with perfect occlusal clearance. Those graduates are in for a surprise when they enter a real-world laboratory and find that's not always how the work is received; our students are better prepared."

Future-Net works on a rolling admission basis, so students can start the program at any time. Although it's open to all, most students are currently referred by the California's worker's compensa­tion program, which pays for injured workers to be re-trained in a new field.

He acknowledges that some students are discouraged by the low entry-level wages, but he stresses to them the future potential of a talented, hard-working technician and emphasizes the rewarding experience of restoring smiles. But, he says, lab owners also have a responsibility to address these concerns. "Lab owners often complain that they can't find expe­rienced, professional technicians, and yet they don't want to pay the kind of wage that type of employee deserves," says Rego. "As an industry, we need to step up to the plate and say, 'we are going to charge a decent price for our work so that we can pay a decent wage.'"

Rego is also adding an advanced course on anatomical waxing, metal finishing and porcelain finishing for experienced technicians. For details on Future-Net, call 951-684-6273 or e-mail lrego@future-net.net.

(taken from LMT, February 2005)