Dental assistants are helping with COVID-19 testing. They may perform swabs for COVD-19 testing, including nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs.
Before performing NP swabs dental assistants must:
- obtain permission from our College to participate in clinical training
- successfully complete training which has been approved by Alberta Health Services (AHS)*
- meet any other criteria required by their employer
- obtain permission from our College to perform the activity
*You must be an employee of AHS, or be in the process of being hired by them, to access the AHS-approved clinical training. Only those who have access to the training should apply for NP swabbing authorization.
You must be a Registered Dental Assistant with a valid Practice Permit to be eligible to apply for authorization for NP swabbing. Use this form to apply.
See Registration Policies RP7.1 for details about NP swabbing authorization.
NP Swabbing is a Restricted Activity
The various swabs used for COVID-19 testing collect samples from different depths. The NP swabbing procedure collects samples from much deeper than nasal or throat swabs. This deeper swabbing involves a restricted activity.
The Dental Assistants Profession Regulation doesn’t include the restricted activity required for the deeper NP swabbing. As a result, dental assistants are not normally authorized to perform this activity. However, Health Minister Tyler Shandro has issued Ministerial Order 645-2020 which authorizes dental assistants regulated by our College to perform the necessary restricted activity subject to these terms and conditions:
- An authorized person may only perform the activity authorized by this Ministerial Order for the purpose of nasopharyngeal swabbing.
- An authorized person may only perform the activity authorized by this Ministerial Order once they have successfully completed training which has been approved by Alberta Health Services.
- An authorized person may only perform the activity authorized by this Ministerial Order once they have met any other criteria required by the employer they are employed by.
- An authorized person must obtain permission to perform the activity by their regulated profession.
- An authorized person is subject to any standards of practice, guidelines or policies imposed by their regulated profession.
The Alberta Government defines restricted activities as “high risk activities performed as part of providing a health service that require specific competencies and skills to be carried out safely.”