How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene College near Kenai Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Kenai AK is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing 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 Kenai AK practice and the dentists. 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 every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Kenai AK dental offices are usually 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Kenai AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Kenai AK, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Kenai AK dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many 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 program you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Kenai AK dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Kenai AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Kenai AK dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Kenai AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to 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 Kenai AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Kenai AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Kenai Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Kenai Alaska.