How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist School near Lawrence 66044
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Lawrence KS is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss 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 look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Lawrence dental practice and can perform a variety of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of Kansas dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Kansas dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a Lawrence dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Kansas practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure 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 and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Kansas community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive 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 employed in dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Lawrence area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist school can be a good alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Lawrence home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental online college is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Lawrence area programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Kansas schools 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 due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lawrence area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the college you select offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Lawrence area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many Lawrence area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Lawrence 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygiene or assistant colleges need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the Kansas schools you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 66044 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Lawrence at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Dental Program near Lawrence KSEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant course is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.