How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Anchorage Alaska
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Anchorage AK is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly 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 usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Anchorage AK dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete 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 dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Anchorage AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
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 discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anchorage AK dental practices often prefer 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 offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Anchorage AK dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Anchorage AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Anchorage Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.