How to Enroll In a Dental Assistant Training Program near Homer Alaska
Picking the ideal dental assistant school near Homer AK is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Homer AK dental office and can carry out a variety of duties. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing 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 Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Homer AK practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alaska junior colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Homer AK dental practices are often 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 Alaska trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant college may be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind 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 accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Homer AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Alaska programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Homer AK area schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied 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 Program Accredited? There are several 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 prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Homer AK frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited Alaska programs.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just verify that the Alaska school you select offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to earn a living as a hygienist, a large number of Homer AK dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the right school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? 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 schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Homer AK area school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Homer AK dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Homer AK dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Homer AK area schools you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Homer AK.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near your Homer AK home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical 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 Choose to Be a Dental Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Dental Assisting job, it's helpful to review questions you could be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask Dental Assisting prospects is "What drove you to decide on Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for being a Dental Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to Assisting, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the abilities you have that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down several concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Select the Best Dental Assistant College near Homer AK
Picking the ideal dental assistant course is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require about one year of study prior to entering the job market. When obtaining 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 in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Homer AK.
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