How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant Training Program near Washington District of Columbia
Choosing the right dental assistant college near Washington DC is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Washington DC dental office and can carry out a variety of duties. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the District of Columbia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, 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 supporting the Washington DC practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at District of Columbia junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Washington DC dental practices are normally 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 District of Columbia community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Training
Enrolling in an online dental assistant school can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Washington DC home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, 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 typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Assistant Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing District of Columbia programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Washington DC area programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Washington DC frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited District of Columbia programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the District of Columbia school you select 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. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Washington DC dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental hygienist program, but could 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 ideal college for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Washington DC area program you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Washington DC dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools need help getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Washington DC dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Washington DC area schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant training can differ in cost based 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 have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Washington DC.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near your Washington DC home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required 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 issues.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Dental Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Dental Assisting position, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask Dental Assisting applicants is "What compelled you to decide on Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to Assisting, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize some approaches about how you want to address them. Because there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Pick the Best Dental Assistant College near Washington DC
Picking the ideal dental assistant course is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require approximately one year of study prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Washington DC.
Tell Me About Washington District of Columbia
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as "Washington", "the District", or simply "D.C.", is the capital of the United States.
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of President George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 693,972 as of July 2017. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's population to more than one million during the workweek. The Washington metropolitan area, of which the District is the principal city, has a population of over 6 million, the sixth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country.
All three branches of the federal government of the United States are centered in the District - the Congress, President, and Supreme Court. Washington is home to many national monuments and museums, which are primarily situated on or around the National Mall. The city hosts 176 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit organizations, lobbying groups, and professional associations.
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