How to Choose a Dental Assistant College near Fairhope Alabama
Picking the right dental assistant school near Fairhope AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, such as the school’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 have to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand 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 discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Fairhope AL dental office and can carry out a myriad of tasks. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance pediatrics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with 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) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the Fairhope AL practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Assistant and Hygienist Training Options
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fairhope AL dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require 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 community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant college might be a good option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairhope AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed 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 style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Fairhope AL area colleges you are comparing 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 right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant college. If you are intending 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 program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Fairhope AL typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the Alabama school you choose has the program that you want. For the assistant program, the alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, the majority of Fairhope AL dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 may 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 Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Fairhope AL area school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real Fairhope AL 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant schools require help landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fairhope AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Fairhope AL area schools you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Fairhope AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental school, you need to verify that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near your Fairhope AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Dental Assistant?When prepping to interview for a Dental Assisting position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask Dental Assistant prospects is "What made you choose Assisting as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for being a Dental Assistant, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to Assisting, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an exceptional Dental Assistant and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Choose the Right Dental Assistant College near Fairhope AL
Choosing the right dental assistant course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require approximately 1 year of study before they enter the work force. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training 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 as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Fairhope AL.
Tell Me About Fairhope Alabama
Fairhope is a city in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States, on a sloping plateau, along the cliffs and shoreline of Mobile Bay. The 2010 census lists the population of the city as 15,326. Fairhope is a principal city of the Daphne-Fairhope-Foley micropolitan area, which includes all of Baldwin County. In 2016, Fairhope was named the best small town in the South by Southern Living magazine.
Fairhope was founded in November 1894 on the site of the former Alabama City as a radical Georgist "Single-Tax" colony by the Fairhope Industrial Association, a group of 28 followers of economist Henry George who had incorporated earlier that year in Des Moines, Iowa. Their corporate constitution explained their purpose in founding a new colony:
In forming their demonstration project, they pooled their funds to purchase land at "Stapleton's pasture" on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and then divided it into a number of long-term leaseholds. The corporation paid all governmental taxes from rents paid by the lessees, thus simulating a single-tax. The purpose of the single-tax colony was to eliminate disincentives for productive use of land and thereby retain the value of land for the community.
In 1907 educator Marietta Johnson founded the School for Organic Education in Fairhope. The school was praised in John Dewey's influential 1915 book Schools of Tomorrow. Dewey and Johnson were founding members of the Progressive Education Association.
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