How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Juneau Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Juneau AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program 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, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically 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 cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Juneau AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Juneau AK dental practices are normally 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 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Juneau AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With 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 covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Juneau AK dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get hands-on, practical 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 build professional relationships in the Juneau AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Juneau AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the schools you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Juneau AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Juneau Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to acquire your education 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.