How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist College near Juneau Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Juneau AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, such as the college'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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Juneau AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Juneau AK dental practices are often 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Juneau AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice 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 dedication for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Juneau AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Juneau AK dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get 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 form professional relationships in the Juneau AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Juneau AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the schools you are looking at how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Juneau AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Juneau Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.