How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program Near Fairbanks Alaska
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Fairbanks AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as 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 two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier 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 colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Role of Dental Hygienists
A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who is responsible for preventing and treating oral diseases. Dental hygienists perform much of their work independently, with only general supervision from a licensed dentist. Dental hygienists are an important part of dentist-led teams. Their work removes a considerable burden from the dentist, freeing up the dentist to perform more advanced procedures. Therefore, it is quite common for dental hygienists to perform many of the preventive dental procedures in an office, such as teeth cleaning, examining patients for oral diseases and other preventative dental care. Hygienists will scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth and polish them. Hygienists also usually take X-rays of your teeth and gums, give patients a fluoride rinse, and apply sealants to the teeth to ward off cavities. A hygienist will also review ways to care for your teeth and overall health at home, offering tips on ways to brush and floss, and on what foods to avoid or to eat for a healthy mouth.
Dental Hygienist Training 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.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairbanks AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order 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. Fairbanks AK employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fairbanks AK dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Fairbanks AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Fairbanks AK dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fairbanks AK area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Fairbanks AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Fairbanks Dental Hygienist School
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairbanks Alaska.