How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene School near Homer Alaska
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Homer AK is an essential 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 completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider as well, 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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Homer AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Homer AK dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Homer AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homer AK, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Homer AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Homer AK dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Homer AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at 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 Homer AK dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Homer AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Homer AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Homer AK in the evenings 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 policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Homer Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homer Alaska.