How to Choose a Dental Assistant Program near Jacksonville Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental assistant school near Jacksonville AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two specializations you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Jacksonville AL dental office and can perform a wide range of duties. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job 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
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most 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 Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Jacksonville AL practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting classes. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Jacksonville AL dental offices are generally required to hold 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 vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant college might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Jacksonville AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the process 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. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Jacksonville AL area schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Jacksonville AL often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Alabama school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, a large number of Jacksonville AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep 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 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, obviously it would not be the best college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. A number of dental colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers enough 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, confirm that the Jacksonville AL area school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real Jacksonville AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools require help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Jacksonville AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Jacksonville AL area programs you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Jacksonville AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near your Jacksonville AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, 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 have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Dental Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Dental Assisting job, it's helpful to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask Dental Assisting applicants is "What compelled you to select Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a Dental Assistant, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to Assisting, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you should organize some strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Assistant Program near Jacksonville AL
Picking the ideal dental assistant program is essential if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require approximately one year of study prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Jacksonville AL.
Tell Me About Jacksonville Alabama
Jacksonville is a city in Calhoun County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 12,548, which is a 49% increase since 2000. It is included in the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan Statistical Area. Jacksonville State University is located here, which is a center of commerce and one of the largest employers in the area.
Jacksonville was founded in 1833 on land purchased from Creek Indian Chief "Du-Hoag" Ladiga. First called Drayton, the town was renamed to honor President Andrew Jackson in 1834. There are a couple Civil War monuments in town, including a statue of Major John Pelham in the city cemetery and a statue of a Confederate soldier in the middle of the square. Jacksonville served as the county seat for Calhoun County until the 20th century when it moved to Anniston. Jacksonville State University was founded here in 1883.
An EF3 tornado hit Jacksonville on March 19, 2018, causing extensive damage to the city and Jacksonville State University, almost $42 million in damages. The relatively low amount of casualties, specifically just four injuries, was attributed by some to the fact that the university was on spring break at the time. More than 1,000 volunteers assisted in the immediate tornado relief. Caleb Howard, then a senior at Jacksonville State University, said that "[i]t's been amazing to see the university and the community come together." Classes resumed at the university the following month. Although the university's usual site for graduation, Pete Mathews Coliseum, was damaged in the tornado along with over 20 other buildings, the first spring graduation since the tornado proceeded as scheduled on May 4 outside the football stadium. Dr. John Beeler, the university's president, said "It's a joyous event generally because you're celebrating the accomplishments of all your graduates, but it's an even more joyous event because to me it's a celebration of how far we've come in a short time in recovering from these tornadoes."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 9.8 square miles (25.5 km2), of which 0.008 square miles (0.02 km2), or 0.10%, is water. Jacksonville is located in a valley between Choccolocco Mountain to the east and smaller ridges to the west.
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