How to Select a Dental Assistant or Hygienist College near Williamstown 26187
Choosing the right dental assistant training near Williamstown WV is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, including the college’s accreditation and reputation. 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 typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. However, dental hygienists typically 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 expense. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of both dental assistants and hygienists and the training options available.
The Job of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Williamstown dental practice and can perform a variety of tasks. Their main job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of West Virginia dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. However most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, for example:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the West Virginia dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a Williamstown dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As previously discussed, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the West Virginia practice, deal 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 area. They examine each patient’s teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the “RDH” designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist & Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant programs are available at West Virginia junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. The most common credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental assistant or hygienist, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Williamstown area dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Classes
Selecting an online dental assistant or hygienist program might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Williamstown home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. 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 required to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist or Assistant Schools
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of comparing Williamstown area programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the West Virginia programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant or hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Williamstown area employers frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant or a dental hygienist, just make sure that the college you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the options are to enroll in a certificate program or earn an Associate Degree. In order to work as a hygienist, the majority of Williamstown area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good 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 solely interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the best school for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most Williamstown area dental schools have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional Williamstown dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant or hygiene schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the West Virginia schools you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant and dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the 26187 area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Williamstown at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have 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 due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Best Dental College near Williamstown WVSelecting the right dental hygienist or dental assistant program is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in as little as 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.