How to Find the Right Dental Assistant Training Program near Woodbridge Virginia
Selecting the ideal dental assistant college near Woodbridge VA is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. However dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will explore 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 review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Woodbridge VA dental office and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of dental assistants opt to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing 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 Virginia dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main 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 Woodbridge VA practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Virginia junior colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Woodbridge VA dental practices are usually 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in Virginia trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Assistant Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental assistant college can be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Woodbridge VA home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant Colleges
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Virginia programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Woodbridge VA area schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied 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 Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Woodbridge VA often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited Virginia schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make sure that the Virginia college you choose 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 work as a hygienist, many Woodbridge VA dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an exceptional 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 primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the right school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Woodbridge VA area program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Woodbridge VA dental practice. They make it easier for 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 assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Woodbridge VA dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Woodbridge VA area programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Woodbridge VA.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near your Woodbridge VA home at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Dental Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Dental Assistant position, it's important to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask Dental Assistant prospects is "What compelled you to choose Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Dental Assistant, but additionally what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to Assisting, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you would like to answer them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down some concepts and topics that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Select the Ideal Dental Assistant School near Woodbridge VA
Enrolling in the right dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount 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 schools normally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require about one year of study prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Woodbridge VA.
Tell Me About Woodbridge Virginia
Woodbridge is a census-designated place (CDP) in Prince William County, Virginia, United States, located 20 miles (32 km) south of Washington, D.C. Bounded by the Occoquan and Potomac rivers, Woodbridge Magisterial District had 54,275 residents at the 2010 census. The Woodbridge census-designated place comprises just one portion of the magisterial district and had a population of 4,055 in the 2010 census. The census-designated place consists solely of the section north of Occoquan Road and Dawson Beach Road, and east of Interstate 95.
Woodbridge offers a variety of amenities for residents and visitors, including the Potomac Mills shopping mall and the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Centre Shopping Centers. Woodbridge is served by the Prince William County Public Schools, and the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College borders the district. Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, formerly Potomac Hospital, recently expanded and now has the capacity to serve 183 patients. Transportation includes access to Interstate 95, two VRE commuter train stations, bus service, and a local “slugging” system, offering residents a variety of transit options.
Woodbridge offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for resident and visitors. The Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life including the bald eagles and ospreys. Veteran’s Park and Leesylvania State Park are located on the Potomac River and provide swimming, boating, picnic and hiking services. Close-by is Rippon Lodge, the oldest house in Prince William County, which is open for tours throughout the summer. Trails at Leesylvania Park lead to the ancestral home of the Lee family.
Woodbridge was a village composed largely of either farms or industrial complexes. Later, the Woodbridge postal delivery area became the hub that included Dale City and Lake Ridge, which had previously been forged as a planned community in the 1960s and 1970s. The area takes its name from Thomas Mason's 1795 wooden toll bridge built to supplant the existing ferry, carrying the King's Highway traffic across the Occoquan River. Mason's Woodbridge Plantation was located in the area of the present day Belmont Bay golf course community.
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