How to Find the Right Dental Assistant Training Program near Soldotna Alaska
Picking the right dental assistant school near Soldotna AK is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 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 generally takes about 12 months to finish for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Function of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Soldotna AK dental office and can carry out a variety of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary 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. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job 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 assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Soldotna AK practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties 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
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When 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 Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Alaska junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Soldotna AK dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take 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 pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant school might be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Soldotna AK home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant Colleges
Once you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to attain, you can start the process of comparing Alaska programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the Soldotna AK area colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Soldotna AK typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited Alaska colleges.
Is The Proper Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the Alaska school you select offers the program that you want. 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, the majority of Soldotna AK dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental hygienist program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are solely interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Soldotna AK area program you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Soldotna AK dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools need assistance getting 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 are likely to have good reputations within the Soldotna AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Soldotna AK area colleges you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Soldotna AK.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near your Soldotna AK home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need 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 responsibilities.
Why Did You Want to Become a Dental Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Dental Assistant position, it's helpful to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers often ask Dental Assistant prospects is "What drove you to choose Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but additionally what attributes and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to Assisting, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare a number of strategies about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding Dental Assistant and the leading candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down some ideas and anecdotes that pertain 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 discuss to wow the recruiter.
Choose the Right Dental Assistant Program near Soldotna AK
Choosing the right dental assistant program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require roughly 1 year of study prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Soldotna AK.
Tell Me About Soldotna Alaska
Soldotna is located in the Southcentral portion of Alaska on the central-western portion of the Kenai Peninsula. The city limits span 7 square miles along the Kenai River, which empties into the Cook Inlet in the nearby city of Kenai. The Kenai River was selected by CNN Travel as one of the "World's 15 Best Rivers for Travelers," due to its fishing and hunting opportunities. Soldotna is located on the western edge of the vast Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area spanning nearly 2 million acres and home to bears, moose, caribou, sheep, and many fish and bird species.
The city is located at the junction of the Sterling Highway and the Kenai Spur Highway, which has enabled Soldotna to develop as a service and retail hub for the Central Peninsula as well as for travelers between Anchorage and Homer. The Central Peninsula Hospital serves the medical needs of the region's residents and tourists. The Kenai Peninsula College, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage, operates the Kenai River Campus in Soldotna. Additionally, the headquarters of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are located in the city.
In 1947, after World War II, the United States government withdrew a number of townships along Cook Inlet and the lower Kenai River from the Kenai National Moose Range, opening up the area to settlement under the Homestead Act. Veterans of the United States armed services were given a 90-day preference over non-veterans in selecting land and filing for property. Also in that year, the Sterling Highway right-of-way was cleared of trees from Cooper Landing to Kenai. The location of present-day Soldotna was selected as the site for the highway's bridge crossing the Kenai River.
The construction of the Sterling Highway provided a link from the Soldotna area to the outside world. More homesteads were taken and visitors came to fish in the area. The Soldotna Post Office opened in 1949 and other businesses opened in the next few years.
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