How to Find the Right Dental Assistant Training Program in Nevada
Selecting the right dental assistant program in Nevada is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider as well, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. 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 time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. However dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Nevada dental practice and can perform a myriad of duties. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many dental assistants opt to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Nevada dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Nevada practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about 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 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. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at Nevada junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental offices are usually required to have 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 Nevada 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 as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Assistant Schools
Selecting an online dental assistant school can be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Nevada home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can start the process of comparing Nevada programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant 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 ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Nevada frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited Nevada colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the Nevada college you decide on has the program that you want. 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, the majority of Nevada 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 college has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental hygienist program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the right school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Nevada school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Nevada 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 Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant schools need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Nevada dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Nevada programs you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Nevada.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near your Nevada home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Find the Ideal Dental Assistant Program in Nevada
Choosing the ideal dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require approximately one year of study before they enter the work force. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. 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 appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Nevada.