How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Anchorage AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the school'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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties 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 in support of the Anchorage AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Anchorage Alaska dental practices are often 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 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Anchorage AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anchorage AK employers typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers adequate 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, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Anchorage AK dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Anchorage AK dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Anchorage AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Anchorage Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.