How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Locust Hill 23092
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Locust Hill VA is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, for instance the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish for a diploma or certificate. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important component of any Locust Hill dental practice and can carry out a myriad of duties. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Many Virginia dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a Locust Hill dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Virginia practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled 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 courses are offered at Virginia junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Locust Hill area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a viable option 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 rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Locust Hill home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental program is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Colleges
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Locust Hill area schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Virginia programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Locust Hill area employers often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, a large number of Locust Hill area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of Locust Hill area dental colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Locust Hill dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Virginia programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can 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 most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 23092 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Locust Hill at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Select the Ideal Dental College near Locust Hill VAEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be working in just nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.