How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Fairbanks Alaska
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Fairbanks AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fairbanks AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one 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 perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Fairbanks AK dental practices are usually required to have 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 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairbanks AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairbanks AK, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition 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 training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairbanks AK dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means 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 Fairbanks AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Fairbanks AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Fairbanks AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need 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 responsibilities.
Pick the Right Fairbanks Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly 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 programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.