How to Find the Right Dental Assistant College near Fairbanks Alaska
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program near Fairbanks AK is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to finish for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Role of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Fairbanks AK dental office and can undertake a myriad of tasks. Their main 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 acquire certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. 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 earlier discussed, the dental assistant works with and assists the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the Fairbanks AK practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Education Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alaska junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairbanks AK dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental assistant program can be a viable option for receiving 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 Fairbanks AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting 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 clinical and online training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialty and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing Alaska schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Fairbanks AK area programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Fairbanks AK frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited Alaska schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the Alaska college you choose has the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to have a career as a hygienist, most Fairbanks AK dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation and 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 could have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are just interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the best college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough 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, check that the Fairbanks AK area college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Fairbanks AK dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the Fairbanks AK area colleges you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Fairbanks AK.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near your Fairbanks AK home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical 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 issues.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Dental Assistant?When preparing to interview for a Dental Assistant position, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers frequently ask Dental Assisting applicants is "What made you pick Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Assistant, but additionally what qualities and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to Assisting, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready several strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Choose the Right Dental Assistant Program near Fairbanks AK
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require roughly 1 year of study before they enter the job market. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Fairbanks AK.
Tell Me About Fairbanks Alaska
Fairbanks is the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska. 2016 estimates put the population of the city proper at 32,751, and the population of the Fairbanks North Star Borough at 100,605, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Alaska (after Anchorage). The Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses all of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and is the northernmost Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States, located 196 driving miles (or 140 air miles) south of the Arctic Circle. Fairbanks is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the founding campus of the University of Alaska system.
Though there was never a permanent Alaska Native settlement at the site of Fairbanks, Athabascan peoples have used the area for thousands of years. An archaeological site excavated on the grounds of the University of Alaska Fairbanks uncovered a Native camp about 3,500 years old. From evidence gathered at the site, archaeologists surmise that Native activities in the area were limited to seasonal hunting and fishing. In addition, archeological sites on the grounds of nearby Fort Wainwright date back 10,000 years. Arrowheads excavated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks site matched similar items found in Asia, providing some of the first evidence that humans arrived in North America via the land bridge.
Captain E. T. Barnette founded Fairbanks in August 1901 while headed to Tanacross (or Tanana Crossing, where the Valdez–Eagle trail crossed the Tanana River), where he intended to set up a trading post. The steamboat on which Barnette was a passenger, the Lavelle Young, ran aground while attempting to negotiate shallow water. Barnette, along with his party and supplies, were deposited along the banks of the Chena River 7 miles (11 km) upstream from its confluence with the Tanana River. The sight of smoke from the steamer's engines caught the attention of gold prospectors working in the hills to the north, most notably an Italian immigrant named Felice Pedroni (better known as Felix Pedro) and his partner Tom Gilmore. The two met Barnette where he disembarked and convinced him of the potential of the area. Barnette set up his trading post at the site, still intending to eventually make it to Tanacross. Teams of gold prospectors soon congregated in and around the newly founded Fairbanks; they built drift mines, dredges, and lode mines in addition to panning and sluicing.
After some urging by James Wickersham, who later moved the seat of the Third Division court from Eagle to Fairbanks, the settlement was named after Charles W. Fairbanks, a Republican senator from Indiana and later the twenty-sixth Vice President of the United States, serving under Theodore Roosevelt during his second term.
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