How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist College near Palmer Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Palmer AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Palmer AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Palmer AK dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Palmer AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Palmer AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished 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 School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order 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 of the highest quality and comprehensive. Palmer AK dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate 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 school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Palmer AK dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Palmer AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Palmer AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Palmer AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near Palmer AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Palmer Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is crucial 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 many alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Palmer Alaska.