How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Sterling Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Sterling AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the college'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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties 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 Sterling AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Sterling AK dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can 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 practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Sterling AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sterling AK, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program 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. Sterling AK dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Sterling AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way 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 are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Sterling AK dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Sterling 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 enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Sterling AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Sterling AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Sterling Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking 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 Sterling Alaska.