How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist School near Ketchikan Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Ketchikan AK is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role 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 in support of the Ketchikan 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 first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Ketchikan AK dental offices 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 trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Ketchikan AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice 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 mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Ketchikan AK, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Ketchikan AK dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Ketchikan AK dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Ketchikan AK dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Ketchikan AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Ketchikan AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Ketchikan AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have 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 work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Ketchikan Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Ketchikan Alaska.