How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene College near Anchorage Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Anchorage AK is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the school'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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Anchorage AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Anchorage AK dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Anchorage AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anchorage AK, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anchorage AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Anchorage AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Anchorage AK dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Anchorage AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Anchorage Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.