How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Spring Arbor 49283
Selecting the right dental assistant training near Spring Arbor MI is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete 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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important component of any Spring Arbor dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Michigan dental assistants elect to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Michigan dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a Spring Arbor dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Michigan practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums 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 plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Michigan community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Spring Arbor area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant or hygienist college may be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Spring Arbor home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Spring Arbor area programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Michigan programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant or hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Spring Arbor area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the school you choose has 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. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many Spring Arbor area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most Spring Arbor area dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Spring Arbor dental practice. They help 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? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Michigan colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 49283 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Spring Arbor in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Find the Ideal Dental Program near Spring Arbor MISelecting the ideal dental hygienist or dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as nine months to a year, while Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.