How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene College Near Juneau Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Juneau AK is an important first step toward beginning 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 completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. 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 complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists provide preventative oral care under a dentist's supervision. They clean patients' teeth and examine their mouths for signs of damage, gingivitis, and other diseases. Hygienists teach patients how to maintain good oral health. They also schedule appointments and keep records and may take and develop X-rays. Their scope of practice, which is the list of services they are legally allowed to deliver, differs according to the regulations of the state in which they practice. Dental hygienists generally are required to perform duties that include the following:
- Complete a preliminary exam on each new dental service patient
- Clean and remove stains, plaque, and tartar from teeth
- Apply fluorides and sealants for tooth protection
- Take dental x-rays and develop them
- Administer local anesthetics to patients
- Document treatment plans and care performed on patients
- Examine each patient's oral health and communicate findings to dentists
- Educate patients on how to care for their teeth with good oral hygiene, including proper brushing and flossing
Dental Hygienist Education and LicensingHow to become a dental hygienist depends on completing educational requirements, training and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination. Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. The majority of college programs take at least two years to complete, with graduates receiving associate degrees. Receipt of this degree allows a hygienist to take licensure examinations (national and state or regional), become licensed and to work in a dental office. Dental school and university-based dental hygiene programs may offer baccalaureate and master's degrees, which generally require at least two years of further schooling. These additional degrees may be required for a career in teaching and/or research, as well as for clinical practice in school or public health programs. Dental hygienists are licensed by each state to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. Almost all states require that dental hygienists be graduates of Commission on Dental Education-accredited dental hygiene education programs to be eligible for state licensure. And, almost all states require candidates for licensure to obtain a passing score on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (a comprehensive written examination) in addition to passing the state-authorized licensure examination.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Juneau AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies 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 necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Juneau AK employers frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way 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 build professional relationships in the Juneau AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Juneau AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Juneau AK at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need 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 because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Juneau Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential if you intend 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 acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.