How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Course Near Anchorage Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Anchorage AK is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the college'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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
It Takes Just a Few Minutes to Start Your Dental Hygienist Career Below
The Function of Dental Hygienists
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 in support of the Anchorage AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training OptionsBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Anchorage Alaska dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Anchorage AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished 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 School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Anchorage AK employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way 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 build professional relationships in the Anchorage AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Anchorage AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total 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 variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs 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, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Anchorage AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Anchorage Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.