How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist College near Palmer Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Palmer AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, 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 finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Palmer AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. 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 Education Options
Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Palmer AK dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Palmer AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Palmer AK, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing 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 final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college 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. Palmer AK dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Palmer AK dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, clinical 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Palmer AK dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the programs you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Palmer AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Palmer AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure 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 have to go to classes near Palmer AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Palmer Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose 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 better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Palmer Alaska.