How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program Near Anchorage Alaska
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Anchorage AK is an essential 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 much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, 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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Anchorage AK practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Anchorage Alaska dental practices are normally 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 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 Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember 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 provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Anchorage AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Anchorage AK employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Anchorage AK dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Anchorage AK dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the programs you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Anchorage AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Anchorage AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Anchorage AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Anchorage Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage Alaska.