How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Sterling Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Sterling AK is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Sterling AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed 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
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Sterling AK dental offices are normally 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 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Sterling AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sterling AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. 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 assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Sterling AK dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in provides adequate 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, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Sterling AK dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools 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 Sterling AK dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Sterling AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, 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 need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Sterling AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, 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 due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Sterling Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal 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 we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sterling Alaska.