How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant Training Program near Helena Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental assistant training near Helena AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. 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 money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to 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 Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Helena AL dental office and can undertake a variety of duties. Their primary job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However most assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Helena AL practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed 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 Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Helena AL dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 Alabama trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Schools
Selecting an online dental assistant program can be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Helena AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Helena AL area colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Helena AL frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Alabama school you choose offers the program that you want. 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 Helena AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a school 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are solely interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select provides 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 are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Helena AL area college you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Helena AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant programs require help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Helena AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Helena AL area programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to 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 Helena AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near your Helena AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need 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.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Dental Assistant position, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the things that hiring managers frequently ask Dental Assistant prospects is "What drove you to choose Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but additionally what qualities and talents you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to Assisting, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready several strategies about how you want to answer them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional Dental Assistant and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Assistant Program near Helena AL
Selecting the right dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period 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 schools generally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require roughly 1 year of study prior to entering the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Helena AL.
Tell Me About Helena Alabama
Helena (pronunciation hel-LE-nah) is a city in Jefferson and Shelby Counties in the state of Alabama. Helena is considered a suburb of Birmingham and part of the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,793. Helena is highly regarded as a place to live and raise children; Business Week named Helena the 13th "Best Place to Raise Your Kids" in 2007. It has the eighth-lowest crime rate per population in the U.S., and the city was ranked in Money magazine's 2007 list of "Best Places to Live: Top 100" in the U.S., placing at number 91. The Alabama League of Municipalities awarded Helena the 2008 Municipal Achievement Award (population 10,001 to 20,000).
Helena initially incorporated in 1877, but reincorporated in 1917 after errors were discovered in the initial incorporation papers. It did not first appear on the U.S. Census until 1920, giving credence to the later date of incorporation.
The initial settlers to Helena, initially named Cove, were veterans of the final campaigns of the War of 1812. Members of Andrew Jackson's army who cut through the brush were attracted to the quiet, peaceful valleys and streams after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. These first settlers were reported to arrive in 1849 and were predated by the Creek Indian tribes who these settlers had battled. By 1856, the Cove post office opened. Shortly thereafter, the settlers changed the name of the town to Hillsboro.
The onset of the Civil War brought the need for the South to increase its manufacturing output and add industrialization where there was none prior. Coal and iron ore mines were dug all throughout the area and the addition of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad infrastructure made Helena a center point for the wartime efforts. Around 1864 a rolling mill was built on Buck Creek, near the rail lines to process the Iron from Selma. Peter Boyle, an engineer for the railroad working on a new line, met and courted Helen Lee. He would name the burgeoning rail station that fed the rolling mill after her and, eventually, changing the town name to Helena.
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