How to Select a Dental Assistant School near Tuscumbia Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program near Tuscumbia AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, including the school’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 money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months 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. Obviously with the lengthier training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will cover 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 available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Tuscumbia AL dental practice and can perform a multitude of duties. Their primary job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any task that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. 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 Job 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 supporting the Tuscumbia AL practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed 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 programs are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Tuscumbia AL dental offices are generally required to hold 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in Alabama trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant school can be a viable alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program 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 personal computer in the convenience of your Tuscumbia AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Tuscumbia AL area schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Tuscumbia AL often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the Alabama college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, most Tuscumbia 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 college has an excellent 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are just interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Tuscumbia AL area school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Tuscumbia AL 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant colleges require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Tuscumbia AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the Tuscumbia AL area colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant programs can vary in cost dependent on the length 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 come into play. But besides 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Tuscumbia AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near your Tuscumbia AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Dental Assisting position, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask Dental Assistant applicants is "What made you pick Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a Dental Assistant, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to Assisting, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare some ideas about how you want to answer them. Since there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding Dental Assistant and the leading choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Choose the Right Dental Assistant School near Tuscumbia AL
Enrolling in the right dental assistant course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively 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 usually obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require about one year of study prior to entering the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Tuscumbia AL.
Tell Me About Tuscumbia Alabama
Tuscumbia is a city in and the county seat of Colbert County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 8,423. The city is part of The Shoals metropolitan area.
Tuscumbia was the hometown of Helen Keller (Ivy Green) and much of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Tuscumbia Historic District. The city serves as the location for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Tuscumbia had its beginnings when the Michael Dixon family arrived about 1816. They traded with Chief Tucumseh for the Tuscumbia Valley and built their home at the head of the big spring. From these humble dwellings quickly developed a village known as the Big Spring Community. The men of the community requested that the state legislature incorporate them as a city. The town was incorporated in 1820 as Ococoposa and is one of Alabama's oldest towns. In 1821, its name was changed to Big Spring and on December 22, 1822, to Tuscumbia, after the Chief Rainmaker of the Chickasaws.
Although shoals on the nearby Tennessee River made the river nearly impassable, a federal highway completed in 1820 provided the area with good access to markets. Tuscumbia soon became the center for agriculture in northern Alabama. A line to the town on the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad was completed in 1832, and by 1850 Tuscumbia was a major railroad hub for train traffic throughout the South.
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