How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant Program in Nebraska
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college in Nebraska is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial 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 are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. 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 expense. We will cover 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 offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Nebraska dental practice and can perform a wide range of functions. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing 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 check with the Nebraska dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many 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 Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Nebraska practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results 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
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Nebraska community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Nebraska trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of 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 dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Training
Choosing an online dental assistant college may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Nebraska home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice 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 online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Nebraska programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Nebraska frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited Nebraska colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Nebraska school you decide on offers 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 earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Nebraska 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 a good reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental hygienist program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are solely interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Nebraska program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Nebraska dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant colleges require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Nebraska dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Nebraska programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Nebraska.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near your Nebraska home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Assistant School in Nebraska
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require about 1 year of study before they enter the job market. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Nebraska.