How to Choose a Dental Assistant Training Program in New York
Choosing the ideal dental assistant training in New York is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant 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 receiving 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 normally takes about 12 months 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 accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any New York dental practice and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the New York dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many 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 Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the New York practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial 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 carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once 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 Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at New York junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in New York trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental assistant school might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your New York home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
After you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing New York schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant school. If you are planning 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 instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in New York typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited New York colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the New York college you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to earn a living as a hygienist, many New York dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation as well as 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 might 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 right college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the New York college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional New York dental practice. They make it easier for 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant colleges require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the New York dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the New York schools you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant programs 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 private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in New York.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near your New York home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Ideal Dental Assistant Program in New York
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require about one year of study before they enter the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in New York.