How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene School near Homer Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Homer AK is an important first step toward beginning 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 doing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the college'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. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably 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 typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Homer AK dental practices are generally 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 almost every state. They are offered in trade and technical 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 offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Homer AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Homer AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid 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 nearly all states. In order 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 training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Homer AK dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Homer AK dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement 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 profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Homer AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Homer AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Homer AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Homer Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want 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 obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Homer Alaska.