How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene School near Wasilla Alaska
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Wasilla AK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the program'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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. 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 review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Wasilla AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding 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 exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Wasilla AK dental practices are generally 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 almost 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 offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for getting 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 available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Wasilla AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Wasilla AK, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Wasilla AK dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Wasilla AK dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Wasilla AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning 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 attend a few classes at the Wasilla AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Wasilla AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Wasilla AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Wasilla 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 you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your training 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose 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 choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Wasilla Alaska.