How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Palmer Alaska
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Palmer AK is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, for instance the school'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 accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main 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 usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding 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 examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Palmer AK dental offices are often required to have 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 virtually 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist college can be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Palmer AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Palmer AK, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually 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 instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Palmer AK dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Palmer AK dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Palmer AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Palmer AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Palmer AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Palmer AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Palmer Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Palmer Alaska.