How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Chambersburg 17201
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Chambersburg PA is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options available.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Chambersburg dental practice and can perform a wide range of duties. Their main job description is to furnish support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of Pennsylvania dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Pennsylvania dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Chambersburg dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Pennsylvania practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Pennsylvania junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Chambersburg area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Chambersburg home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened 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 receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental program is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Chambersburg area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Pennsylvania programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Chambersburg area employers typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Chambersburg area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many Chambersburg area dental colleges have relationships 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 type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Chambersburg dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Pennsylvania schools you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college 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 Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as 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 expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 17201 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Chambersburg at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Right Dental Program near Chambersburg PAChoosing the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing either a certificate or a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.