How to Pick a Dental Hygienist Training Program near Anchorage Alaska
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Anchorage AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training of a dental hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the dental hygienist works more independently. As previously mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Anchorage AK practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an important part of any Anchorage AK dental office and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are offered at Anchorage AK area community colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about 1 year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in Anchorage AK area community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a practical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Anchorage AK home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Alaska schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Anchorage AK area programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Anchorage AK often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited Alaska colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just confirm that the Alaska school you decide on offers the program that you want. For the assistant program, the options are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Anchorage AK dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, bear in mind that even if a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Anchorage AK college you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Anchorage AK 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygiene programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Anchorage AK dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Alaska schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Anchorage AK.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental school, you must verify that the hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near your Anchorage AK home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Dental Hygienist?When prepping to interview for a Dental Hygiene job, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask Dental Hygienist candidates is "What compelled you to decide on Hygiene as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a Dental Hygienist, but also what attributes and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to Hygiene, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should organize a number of approaches about how you would like to address them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an outstanding Dental Hygienist and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Select the Right Dental Hygienist College near Anchorage AK
Picking the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Anchorage AK.
A Bit About Anchorage Alaska
Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage) (Dena'ina Athabascan: Dgheyaytnu) is a unified home rule municipality in the U.S. state of Alaska. With an estimated 298,192 residents in 2016, it is Alaska's most populous city and contains more than 40 percent of the state's total population; among the 50 states, only New York has a higher percentage of residents who live in its most populous city. All together, the Anchorage metropolitan area, which combines Anchorage with the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough, had a population of 401,635 in 2016, which accounts for more than half of the state's population.
Anchorage is located in the south-central portion of Alaska, at the terminus of the Cook Inlet, on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south. The city limits span 1,961.1 square miles (5,079.2 km2) which encompass the urban core, a joint military base, several outlying communities and almost all of Chugach State Park.
Due to its location, almost equidistant from New York City, Frankfurt, and Tokyo, Anchorage lies within 9 1⁄2 hours by air of nearly 90% of the industrialized world. For this reason, the Anchorage International Airport is a common refueling stop for many international flights and is home to a major FedEx hub, which the company calls a "critical part" of its global network of services.
Anchorage has won the All-America City Award four times: in 1956, 1965, 1984–85, and 2002, by the National Civic League. It has also been named by Kiplinger as the most tax-friendly city in the United States.
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