How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Course Near Juneau Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Juneau AK is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as 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 accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
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The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties 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 Juneau AK dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education OptionsBecause of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Juneau Alaska dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Juneau AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
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 covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to 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 ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Juneau AK employers frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Juneau AK dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to get 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 create professional relationships in the Juneau AK dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Juneau AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Juneau AK dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Juneau AK area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Juneau AK in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, 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 emergencies.
Choose the Best Juneau Dental Hygienist School
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Juneau Alaska.