How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Training Program near Panama City 32401
Selecting the right dental hygienist training near Panama City FL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the school’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options provided.
The Function of a Dental Assistant
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Panama City dental practice and can perform a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of Florida dental assistants choose to specialize and earn certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. However the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Florida dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most 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 Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a Panama City dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and assists the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the Florida practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient’s gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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. After 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 Hygienist & Assistant Education Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Florida junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. The most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Panama City area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist or assistant program might be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Panama City home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental school is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Assistant or Hygienist Colleges
Once you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Panama City area programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Florida schools you are looking at in order to make 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 ideal dental college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Panama City area employers often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make certain that the college 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 earn a living as a hygienist, many Panama City area dental offices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Higher degrees, although not prevalent, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an excellent 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 assistant program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are just interested in a dental hygiene degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many Panama City area dental schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Panama City dental practice. They help 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 Assistance Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygiene or assistant programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Florida colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 32401 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Panama City at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Select the Best Dental Program near Panama City FLEnrolling in the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn either an Associate Degree or a certificate. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist or assistant.