How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Fairbanks Alaska
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Fairbanks AK is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of 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 teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding 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 licensing examinations. When 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 added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairbanks AK dental offices 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 virtually 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Fairbanks AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairbanks AK, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fairbanks AK dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any 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 practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain 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 create professional relationships in the Fairbanks AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Fairbanks AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Fairbanks AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal 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 offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.