How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist School near Meadow Lakes Alaska
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Meadow Lakes AK is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, such as the college'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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Meadow Lakes AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Meadow Lakes AK dental practices are often 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Meadow Lakes AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Meadow Lakes AK, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Meadow Lakes AK dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like 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 Meadow Lakes AK dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get 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 build professional relationships in the Meadow Lakes AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Meadow Lakes AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Meadow Lakes AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Meadow Lakes AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Meadow Lakes AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Meadow Lakes Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Meadow Lakes Alaska.