How to Pick a Dental Assistant School near Northport Alabama
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Northport AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, including the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues 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 look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Northport AL dental office and can undertake a wide range of duties. Their primary job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Northport AL practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as 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 available at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Northport AL dental practices are usually 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 almost every state. They are also offered in Alabama 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Training
Enrolling in an online dental assistant college can be a good option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional 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 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 style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Northport AL area programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify 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 get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Northport AL frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just verify that the Alabama college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, most Northport AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation as well as 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Northport AL area college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Northport AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant programs need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Northport AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the Northport AL area schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Northport AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near your Northport AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Dental Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Dental Assisting position, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask Dental Assistant prospects is "What made you select Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a Dental Assistant, but additionally what attributes and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to Assisting, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to organize a number of approaches about how you would like to address them. Given that there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding Dental Assistant and the ideal choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down a few concepts and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Pick the Ideal Dental Assistant College near Northport AL
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require roughly 1 year of study prior to entering the work force. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Northport AL.
Tell Me About Northport Alabama
Northport is a city in Tuscaloosa County in the west central part of the State of Alabama. Located on the Black Warrior River across from downtown Tuscaloosa, it is currently the 21st largest city in Alabama with an estimated population of 24,497 in 2013. It incorporated in 1871. It is part of the Tuscaloosa Metropolitan Statistical Area.
As Northport is adjacent to the larger city of Tuscaloosa, many residents work in Tuscaloosa or other parts of Tuscaloosa County. Although the two cities share a land boundary, much of their boundary (and historically all of the boundary) is the Black Warrior River.
As of the census of 2000, there were 19,435 people, 7,844 households, and 5,255 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,328.3 people per square mile (512.9/km²). There were 8,509 housing units at an average density of 581.6 per square mile (224.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 71.11% White, 26.03% Black or African American, 0.19% Native American, 0.80% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 0.70% from two or more races. 1.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 7,844 households out of which 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.3% were married couples living together, 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.0% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.98.
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