How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Wasilla Alaska
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Wasilla AK is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Wasilla AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Wasilla AK dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a great alternative for getting 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 balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Wasilla AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program 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 start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify 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 receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Wasilla AK dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Wasilla AK dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical 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 establish professional relationships in the Wasilla AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Wasilla AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of 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 Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find 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 make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Wasilla AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Wasilla Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Wasilla Alaska.