How to Pick a Dental Assistant College near Selma Alabama
Picking the ideal dental assistant school near Selma AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant 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 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 invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete 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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Selma AL dental practice and can carry out a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Selma AL practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant & Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Selma AL dental offices are often required to have 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in Alabama community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant school might be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Selma AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant Programs
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to earn, you can start the process of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Selma AL area programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Selma AL typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Alabama school you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Selma AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good 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 primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Selma AL area school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Selma AL dental practice. They help 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools 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 are likely to have good reputations within the Selma AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the Selma AL area schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students 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 practical training provided. Other variables, 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Selma AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must make sure that the assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near your Selma AL home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, 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 illness, work or family responsibilities.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Assisting position, it's a good idea to review questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters often ask Dental Assistant applicants is "What made you pick Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to Assisting, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should prepare a number of approaches about how you would like to address them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional Dental Assistant and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Choose the Right Dental Assistant College near Selma AL
Selecting the ideal dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require roughly one year of study before they enter the job market. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Selma AL.
Tell Me About Selma Alabama
Selma is a city in and the county seat of Dallas County, in the Black Belt region of south central Alabama and extending to the west. Located on the banks of the Alabama River, the city has a population of 20,756 as of the 2010 census.
The city is best known for the 1960s Selma Voting Rights Movement and the Selma to Montgomery marches, beginning with "Bloody Sunday" in March 1965 and ending with 25,000 people entering Montgomery at the end of the last march to press for voting rights. This activism generated national attention to social justice and that summer, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress to authorize federal oversight and enforcement of constitutional rights of all citizens.
It had been a trading center and market town during the years of King Cotton in the South. It was also an important armaments manufacturing and iron shipbuilding center during the Civil War, surrounded by miles of earthen fortifications. The Confederate forces were defeated during the Battle of Selma.
Before settlement by European peoples, the area of present-day Selma had been inhabited for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The Europeans encountered the historic Native American people known as the Muscogee (also known as the Creek), who had been in the area for hundreds of years.
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