How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist School near Nikiski Alaska
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Nikiski AK is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. 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. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties 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 Nikiski AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first 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 also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Nikiski AK dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Nikiski AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Nikiski AK, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Nikiski AK dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose provides sufficient 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, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Nikiski AK dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Nikiski AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Nikiski AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can 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 fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Nikiski AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Nikiski AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Nikiski Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want 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 available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Nikiski Alaska.