How to Select a Dental Hygienist Program near Washington District of Columbia
Selecting the right dental hygienist training near Washington DC is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess 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 college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Washington DC practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Washington DC dental office and can perform a variety of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. However most assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the District of Columbia dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Washington DC area community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in Washington DC area trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Washington DC home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing District of Columbia schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Washington DC area colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant 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. Employers in Washington DC frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited District of Columbia colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the District of Columbia school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Washington DC dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Washington DC program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Washington DC 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 also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygiene programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Washington DC dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the District of Columbia colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Washington DC.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near your Washington DC home at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have 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 work, illness or family emergencies.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Dental Hygienist?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Hygiene position, it's helpful to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask Dental Hygienist candidates is "What made you decide on Hygiene as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to Hygiene, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready several ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding Dental Hygienist and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Find the Best Dental Hygienist School near Washington DC
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two 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 or credential you choose 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 Washington DC.
A Bit About Washington District of Columbia
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as "Washington", "the District", or simply "D.C.", is the capital of the United States.
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of President George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 681,170 as of July 2016. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's population to more than one million during the workweek. The Washington metropolitan area, of which the District is the principal city, has a population of over 6 million, the sixth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country.
All three branches of the federal government of the United States are centered in the District - the Congress, President, and Supreme Court. Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, which are primarily situated on or around the National Mall. The city hosts 176 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit organizations, lobbying groups, and professional associations.
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