How to Select a Dental Assistant School in Hawaii
Selecting the right dental assistant college in Hawaii is an important initial 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 doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However 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 explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Hawaii dental office and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Hawaii dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job 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 in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Hawaii practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Hawaii junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Hawaii vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Assistant Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental assistant college may be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Hawaii home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
After you have decided on the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Hawaii schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Hawaii typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited Hawaii colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the Hawaii college you select 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. In order to work as a hygienist, most Hawaii dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Hawaii college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real Hawaii dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Hawaii dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Hawaii programs you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant training can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Hawaii.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near your Hawaii home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select 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 need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Enroll in the Right Dental Assistant School in Hawaii
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period 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 programs normally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require about one year of study prior to entering the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking 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 Hawaii.