How to Choose a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Dupont 98327
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Dupont WA is an important initial step toward launching 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 doing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial 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 invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Dupont dental practice and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some Washington dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Washington dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most 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 Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a Dupont dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Washington practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Washington community colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Dupont area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Dupont 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 have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental program is the best option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the process of comparing Dupont area programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Washington programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Dupont area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the school you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, many Dupont area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college 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 solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of Dupont area dental programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers sufficient 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, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Dupont dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs need assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Washington schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 98327 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Dupont in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Enroll in the Right Dental College near Dupont WASelecting the right dental assistant or dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be working in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining either a certificate or a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.