How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene College near Anchorage Alaska
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Anchorage AK is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, including the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Anchorage AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Anchorage AK dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Anchorage AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anchorage AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Anchorage AK dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Anchorage AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Anchorage AK dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Anchorage AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Anchorage Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.