How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Fairbanks Alaska
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Fairbanks AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the program'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role 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 assists the Fairbanks AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairbanks AK dental practices are usually required to have 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 vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Fairbanks AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairbanks AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairbanks AK dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to obtain 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 develop professional relationships in the Fairbanks AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Fairbanks AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs 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 colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Fairbanks AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need 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 issues.
Choose the Best Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically 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 elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.