How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene School near Kodiak Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Kodiak AK is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance the college'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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Kodiak AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Kodiak AK dental offices are usually required to hold 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Kodiak AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Kodiak AK, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished 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 College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Kodiak AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Kodiak AK dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to receive 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Kodiak AK dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Kodiak AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending 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 besides 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Kodiak AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Kodiak AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Kodiak Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Kodiak Alaska.