How to Find the Right Dental Assistant Training Program near Birmingham Alabama
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Birmingham AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, for instance the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Birmingham AL dental practice and can undertake a wide range of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are asked to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- 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 vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or elect 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 hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Birmingham AL practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed 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 provided at Alabama junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most common credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Birmingham AL dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant school may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Birmingham AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant Programs
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the procedure of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Birmingham AL area schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program 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 Birmingham AL often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Proper Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the Alabama school you choose offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, many Birmingham AL dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not common, are available. However, keep in mind that even if a college 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 strong accredited dental hygienist program, but could 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 right college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Birmingham AL area college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Birmingham AL dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Birmingham AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Birmingham AL area schools you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, 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 experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Birmingham AL.
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 especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near your Birmingham AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Dental Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Dental Assisting position, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask Dental Assisting candidates is "What drove you to choose Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to Assisting, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the best choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some concepts and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Find the Best Dental Assistant College near Birmingham AL
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant course is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally 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 elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Birmingham AL.
Tell Me About Birmingham Alabama
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Alabama and the seat of Jefferson County. The city's population was 212,237 in the 2010 United States Census. As of 2010, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of about 1,128,047, approximately one-quarter of Alabama's population.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and at the time a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the United States. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
In higher education, Birmingham has been the location of the University of Alabama School of Medicine (formerly the Medical College of Alabama) and the University of Alabama School of Dentistry since 1947. In 1969 it gained the University of Alabama at Birmingham, one of three main campuses of the University of Alabama System. It is home to three private institutions: Samford University, Birmingham-Southern College, and Miles College. The Birmingham area has major colleges of medicine, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, pharmacy, law, engineering, and nursing. The city has three of the state's five law schools: Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham School of Law, and Miles Law School. Birmingham is also the headquarters of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the Southeastern Conference, one of the major U.S. collegiate athletic conferences.
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