How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist School near Juneau Alaska
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Juneau AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. 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. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Juneau 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 room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After 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 Degree Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Juneau AK dental practices are normally required to hold 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 virtually 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally 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 convenience of your Juneau AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Juneau AK, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Juneau AK dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching 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 Juneau AK dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students 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 factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend 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 need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Juneau 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 many alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount 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 schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose 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 in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.