How to Choose a Dental Assistant Training Program near Anchorage Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program near Anchorage AK is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Anchorage AK dental practice and can perform a multitude of tasks. Their primary job description is to give assistance 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 obtain certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. 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 choose 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 comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Anchorage AK practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alaska community colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Anchorage AK dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Alaska 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Training
Choosing an online dental assistant program can be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Anchorage AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Alaska programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Anchorage AK area programs you are looking at in order to make 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 best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school 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 Anchorage AK typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited Alaska schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just confirm that the Alaska college you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, the majority of Anchorage AK dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, bear 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 solid accredited dental hygienist program, but could 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 ideal school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental colleges have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Anchorage AK area school you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Anchorage AK dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools require assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Anchorage AK dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Anchorage AK area schools you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Anchorage AK.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near your Anchorage AK home at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need 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 because of illness, work or family issues.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Assistant position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask Dental Assistant applicants is "What made you decide on Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to Assisting, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should organize a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down some concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Find the Right Dental Assistant College near Anchorage AK
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require approximately one year of study before they enter the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Anchorage AK.
Tell Me About Anchorage Alaska
Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage) (Dena'ina Athabascan: Dgheyaytnu) is a unified home rule municipality in the U.S. state of Alaska. With an estimated 301,826 residents in 2017, it is Alaska's most populous city and contains more than 40 percent of the state's total population; among the 50 states, only New York has a higher percentage of residents who live in its most populous city. All together, the Anchorage metropolitan area, which combines Anchorage with the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough, had a population of 401,635 in 2016, which accounts for more than half of the state's population.
Anchorage is located in the south-central portion of Alaska, at the terminus of the Cook Inlet, on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south. The city limits span 1,961.1 square miles (5,079.2 km2) which encompass the urban core, a joint military base, several outlying communities and almost all of Chugach State Park.
Due to its location, almost equidistant from New York City, Frankfurt, and Tokyo, Anchorage lies within 9 1⁄2 hours by air of nearly 90% of the industrialized world. For this reason, the Anchorage International Airport is a common refueling stop for many international flights and is home to a major FedEx hub, which the company calls a "critical part" of its global network of services.
Anchorage has won the All-America City Award four times: in 1956, 1965, 1984–85, and 2002, by the National Civic League. It has also been named by Kiplinger as the most tax-friendly city in the United States.
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