How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Program Near Eagle River Alaska
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Eagle River AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance the program'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 2 to 3 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 need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists are licensed healthcare professionals who provide preventive, educational and therapeutic dental health services directly to patients. They focus on preventing and treating dental diseases to improve oral health, in support of the patient’s overall health. The scope of practice for dental hygienists varies from state to state. Most dental hygienists perform oral health assessments; expose, process and interpret dental radiographs (x-rays); remove plaque, calculus and stain from the teeth; apply preventive materials including fluoride and sealants; teach patients proper oral hygiene techniques; and counsel patients on maintaining optimal oral health. In some states, dental hygienists can administer local anesthesia and nitrous oxide-oxygen sedation; prescribe fluoride and antimicrobial agents; place temporary restorations; and place permanent restorations. Clinical dental hygienists provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings which include private dental offices, managed care organizations, schools, public health clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Dental Hygienist Education and LicensingHow do you become a dental hygienist? First, prospective dental hygienist students must receive a degree through an accredited academic program at a community college, technical college, dental school, or university. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete. Upon earning this associate degree, a prospective hygienist may take licensure examinations to become licensed and work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which typically require at least two years of further schooling. Individuals looking to eventually pursue a career in teaching and/or research often seek these degrees. Almost all states require dental hygienists to be graduates of accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. However, graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program is only part of the process. Almost all states require candidates for licensure to pass a state-authorized licensure examination and obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination before becoming certified as a dental hygienist. The state or regional examination is structured to test candidates’ clinical dental hygiene skills and other necessary dental topics.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Eagle River AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. 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 also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Eagle River Alaska, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Eagle River AK employers typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Eagle River AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Eagle River AK dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Eagle River AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Eagle River AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Eagle River AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Eagle River Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided 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 Eagle River Alaska.