How to Find the Right Dental Assistant School near Whittier Alaska
Picking the right dental assistant program near Whittier AK is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 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 one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues 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 duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an important part of any Whittier AK dental office and can carry out a variety of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties 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 assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Whittier AK practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alaska community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Whittier AK dental practices are normally 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 virtually every state. They are also offered in Alaska trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Assistant Colleges
Choosing an online dental assistant school might be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Whittier AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant Schools
After you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Alaska schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online options also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Whittier AK area schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Whittier AK often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited Alaska schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the Alaska college you select offers the program that you want. 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, a large number of Whittier AK dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation and 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 best college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental programs have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Whittier AK area program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Whittier AK dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 Whittier AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Whittier AK area schools you are interested in how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Whittier AK.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near your Whittier AK home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Assistant job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. Among the things that recruiters often ask Dental Assisting candidates is "What compelled you to choose Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to Assisting, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional Dental Assistant and the best candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Select the Best Dental Assistant Program near Whittier AK
Picking the right dental assistant course is important if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require about one year of study prior to entering the work force. When earning a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Whittier AK.
Tell Me About Whittier Alaska
Whittier is a city at the head of the Passage Canal in the U.S. state of Alaska, about 58 miles southeast of Anchorage. The city is within the Valdez–Cordova Census Area. At the 2010 census the population was 220, up from 182 in 2000. The 2016 estimate was 214 people, almost all of whom live in a single building. Whittier is also a port for the Alaska Marine Highway.
The region occupied by Whittier was once part of the portage route of the Chugach people native to Prince William Sound. Later, the passage was used by Russian and American explorers, and by prospecting miners during the gold rush. The nearby Whittier glacier was named for American poet John Greenleaf Whittier in 1915, and the town eventually took the name as well.
During World War II, the United States Army constructed a military facility, complete with port and railroad near Whittier Glacier and named the facility Camp Sullivan. The spur of the Alaska Railroad to Camp Sullivan was completed in 1943 and the port became the entrance for United States soldiers into Alaska.
The two buildings that dominate the town were built after World War II. The 14-story Hodge Building (renamed Begich Towers) was completed in 1957 and contains 150 two- and three-bedroom apartments plus bachelor efficiency units. Dependent families and Civil Service employees were moved into this high-rise. The Whittier School was connected by a tunnel at the base of the west tower so students could safely access school on days with bad weather. The building was named in honor of Colonel Walter William Hodge, who was a civil engineer and the commanding officer of 93rd Engineer Regiment on the Alcan Highway.
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