How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Sterling Alaska
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Sterling 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 performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, including 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 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 colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. 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 often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination 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 Education Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Sterling AK dental offices are often required to hold 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 technical 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Sterling AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area 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 discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sterling AK, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Sterling AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Sterling AK dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real 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 Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Sterling AK dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Sterling AK dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Sterling AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Sterling AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you select 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 need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Sterling Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to obtain 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sterling Alaska.