How to Select a Dental Assistant School near Winchester Virginia
Selecting the right dental assistant training near Winchester VA is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to 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 Role of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Winchester VA dental office and can undertake a variety of functions. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. A number of dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for instance orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than 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) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Winchester VA practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Virginia community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Winchester VA dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 Virginia 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Assistant Training
Choosing an online dental assistant school can be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Winchester VA home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant Colleges
When you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Virginia schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Winchester VA area schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program 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 Winchester VA frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited Virginia colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the Virginia college you select has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, the majority of Winchester VA dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that even if a college has a good reputation and 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 could 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 Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Winchester VA area college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Winchester VA dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant colleges require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Winchester VA dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the Winchester VA area schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Winchester VA.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near your Winchester VA home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Dental Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Dental Assistant job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters frequently ask Dental Assistant candidates is "What made you decide on Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the private reasons you may have for being a Dental Assistant, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to Assisting, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize several approaches about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional Dental Assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Ideal Dental Assistant School near Winchester VA
Picking the ideal dental assistant course is imperative if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require roughly 1 year of study before they enter the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Winchester VA.
Tell Me About Winchester Virginia
Winchester, VA–WV MSA
Winchester, VA–WV MSA is a U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as defined by the United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as of June, 2003. Its population as of 2015 U.S. Census Bureau estimates is 133,836.
Note: Since a state constitutional change in 1871, all cities in Virginia are independent cities and they are not legally located in any county. The OMB considers these independent cities to be county-equivalents for the purpose of defining MSAs in Virginia. Each MSA is listed by its counties, then cities, each in alphabetical order, and not by size.
Winchester, VA–WV MSA includes areas in Virginia and the State of West Virginia.
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