How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Prichard 25555
Picking the right dental assistant school near Prichard WV is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess 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 program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, 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 expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Prichard dental office and can carry out a variety of duties. Their main job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many West Virginia dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the West Virginia dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a Prichard dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly 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 West Virginia practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending 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
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When 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 Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at West Virginia junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental practices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish 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 interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Prichard area dentists or dental practices.
Dental Online Training
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist school may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Prichard home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental school is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Programs
After you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Prichard area programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the West Virginia colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prichard area employers often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the school you decide on has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, most Prichard area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an excellent reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of Prichard area dental colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Prichard 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene programs require help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the West Virginia schools you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether 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 costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include 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 25555 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Prichard at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Ideal Dental Program near Prichard WVPicking the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental hygienist or assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning either a degree or a certificate you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.