How to Choose a Dental Assistant Program near Palmer Alaska
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Palmer AK is an essential initial step toward beginning 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 picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, 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 be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months 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 finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a dental hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an essential part of any Palmer AK dental office and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably 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 Palmer AK practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed 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 offered at Alaska community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Palmer AK dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 interested in training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant school can be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Palmer AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
When you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Alaska programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Even though these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Palmer AK area colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Palmer AK often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited Alaska colleges.
Is The Correct Dental Program Offered? You can decide 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 alternatives are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to have a career as a hygienist, many Palmer AK dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are available. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited assistant program. So if you are just interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you enroll in offers enough 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, make sure that the Palmer AK area program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Palmer 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Palmer AK dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the Palmer AK area colleges you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Palmer AK.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near your Palmer AK home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Why Did You Want to Be a Dental Assistant?When getting ready to interview for a Dental Assisting position, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers frequently ask Dental Assistant applicants is "What compelled you to select Assisting as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a Dental Assistant, but also what characteristics and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to Assisting, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you should ready a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an excellent Dental Assistant and the leading candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Find the Right Dental Assistant College near Palmer AK
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant program is crucial if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational 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 earning a certificate or degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Palmer AK.
Tell Me About Palmer Alaska
Palmer is a city in and the borough seat of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 5,937.
The first people to live in the Matanuska Valley, where Palmer is located, were the Dena'ina and Ahtna Athabaskans. They moved throughout the area, living a subsistence lifestyle and trading with other native groups. Their trade routes were along the Matanuska River. Russians came to Alaska in 1741 and brought the Russian Orthodox religious tradition to the indigenous peoples of the region. In the early 1890s, an entrepreneur named George W. Palmer built a trading post on the Matanuska River, near present-day Palmer. The town was later named after Palmer.
In the late 19th century, the U.S. government began to take interest in the Matanuska coal fields located north of Palmer. This interest sparked financiers to consider constructing the Alaska Central Railroad in 1904. The advent of World War I created a need for high quality coal to fuel U.S. battleships, and by 1917 the US Navy had constructed rail from the port of Seward to the Chickaloon coal deposits. At the end of World War I, the U.S. Navy distributed land in the coal fields to war veterans and additional land was opened to homesteading. Farmers, miners and homesteaders began to populate the area. The Palmer Post Office was opened July 6, 1917 under the name of Warton. With railroad accessibility, new markets for agriculture began to open up for farmers in the Matanuska Valley.
In one year, Palmer transformed from a mere whistle stop rail siding to a planned community with modern utilities and community services. Eleven million dollars from Federal Emergency Relief Administration was spent to create the town of Palmer and relocate 203 families from the hard hit Iron Range region of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Families traveled by train and ship to Palmer, arriving in May 1935. Upon their arrival they were housed in a tent city during their first Alaskan summer. Each family drew lots for 40-acre (160,000 m2) tracts and their farming adventure began in earnest. The failure rate was high, but many of their descendants still live in the area and there are still many operating farms in the Palmer area, including the Vanderwheele and Wolverine farms. In 1971, the National Outdoor Leadership School started operating wilderness education courses in the nearby Talkeetna and Chugach mountain ranges from a local historic farmhouse, the Berry House, which is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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