How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist School near Sitka Alaska
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Sitka AK is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including 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. Obviously with the lengthier 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 colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Sitka AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Sitka AK dental practices are normally 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Sitka AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sitka AK, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sitka AK dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Sitka AK dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Sitka AK dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Sitka AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Sitka AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Sitka AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, 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 need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Sitka Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sitka Alaska.