How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Bethel Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Bethel AK is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the school'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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Bethel AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed 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 in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Bethel AK dental offices are usually 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Bethel AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually 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 provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bethel AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bethel AK dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Bethel AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 form professional relationships in the Bethel AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Bethel AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the schools you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Bethel AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bethel AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Bethel AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Bethel Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to 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 selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bethel Alaska.