How to Select a Dental Assistant Program near Tuscaloosa Alabama
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Tuscaloosa AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Tuscaloosa AL dental office and can perform 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 running successfully. A number of dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Tuscaloosa AL practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama junior colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Tuscaloosa AL dental offices are often 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 almost every state. They are also offered in Alabama trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant college might be a good option for getting 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 personal computer in the comfort of your Tuscaloosa AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened 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 required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Tuscaloosa AL area colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Tuscaloosa AL typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Alabama college you select has 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. In order to have a career as a hygienist, many Tuscaloosa AL 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 solid accredited dental hygienist program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Tuscaloosa AL area school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Tuscaloosa AL dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Tuscaloosa AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Tuscaloosa AL area colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Tuscaloosa AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near your Tuscaloosa AL home at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Dental Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Assistant job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask Dental Assisting prospects is "What compelled you to decide on Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Dental Assistant, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to Assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready several ideas about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding Dental Assistant and the leading choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Best Dental Assistant School near Tuscaloosa AL
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require roughly 1 year of study prior to entering the work force. When earning a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Tuscaloosa AL.
Tell Me About Tuscaloosa Alabama
Tuscaloosa (/tʌskəˈluːsə/ TUSK-ə-LOO-sə) is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama (in the southeastern United States). Located on the Black Warrior River at the Atlantic Seaboard fall line of the Piedmont, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with an estimated population of 99,543 in 2016.
Incorporated as a town on December 13, 1819, it was named after Tuskaloosa, the chieftain of a Muskogean-speaking people who battled and was defeated by forces of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540 in the Battle of Mabila. It served as Alabama's capital city from 1826 to 1846.
Tuscaloosa is the regional center of industry, commerce, healthcare, and education for the area of west-central Alabama known as West Alabama. It is the principal city of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Tuscaloosa, Hale and Pickens counties and has an estimated metro population in 2013 of 235,628. Tuscaloosa is also the home of The University of Alabama, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. While the city attracted international attention when Mercedes-Benz announced it would build its first automotive assembly plant in North America in Tuscaloosa County, the University of Alabama remains the dominant economic and cultural engine in the city.
Tuscaloosa has been traditionally known as the "Druid City" because of the numerous water oaks planted in its downtown streets since the 1840s. The city has also become known nationally for the University of Alabama's success in sports, and particularly in football. City leaders adopted the moniker "The City of Champions" after the Alabama Crimson Tide football team won the BCS National Championship in their 2009, 2011, and again in their 2012 seasons. The Tide won the College Football Playoff in the 2015 season.
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