How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College near Bethel Alaska
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Bethel AK is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as 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 complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Bethel AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may 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 Bethel AK dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Bethel AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office 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 dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bethel AK, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school 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. Bethel AK dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Bethel AK dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Bethel AK dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Bethel AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bethel AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Bethel AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Bethel Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is essential 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 a number of alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bethel Alaska.