How to Become a Dental Assistant in Dothan Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental assistant school near Dothan AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the dental assistant school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the one that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your first step is to decide which of the two credentials you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options provided.
The Function of Dental Assistants in Dothan AL
Dental assistants are an important part of any Dothan AL dental office and can carry out a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. Or simply put, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping 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 Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most 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).
Dental Assistant Training Programs near Dothan AL
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. As previously mentioned, the most common credential earned is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more expansive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Alabama trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with Dothan AL dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Training
Selecting an online dental assistant course can be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Dothan AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the Dothan AL area colleges you are reviewing 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 best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Dothan AL often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just verify that the Dothan AL college you choose has the program that’s right for you. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental hygienist program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Dothan AL area college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Dothan AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant programs need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Dothan AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the Dothan AL area programs you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Dothan AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near your Dothan AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Dothan AL?
Following is some interesting background information about Dothan Alabama that you may find helpful.
Dothan /ˈdoʊθən/ is a city in Dale, Henry, and Houston counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is the largest city and county seat of Houston County, with a population of 65,496 at the 2010 census. It is located in the state's southeastern corner, approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of the Georgia state line and 16 miles (26 km) north of Florida. Its name was taken from Genesis 37:17: "let us go to Dothan."
Dothan is the principal city of the Dothan, Alabama metropolitan area, which encompasses all of Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties; the small portion that lies in Dale County is part of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area. The combined population for the entire Dothan metropolitan area in 2010 was 145,639. The city serves as the main transportation and commercial hub for a significant part of southeastern Alabama, southwest Georgia, and nearby portions of the Florida Panhandle. Since approximately one-fourth of the U.S. peanut crop is produced nearby, with much of it being processed in the city, Dothan is sometimes referred to as "The Peanut Capital of the World". Dothan also hosts the annual National Peanut Festival at the dedicated "Peanut Festival Fairgrounds".
The area that is now Dothan was inhabited for thousands of years by successive cultures of indigenous peoples. In historic times it was occupied by the Alabama and Creek Native American tribes who were hunters and gatherers in the vast forests of pine that covered this region. These tribes had developed complex cultures, and often used to meet and camp for trading near a large spring at the crossroads of two trails.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Assistant School near Dothan AL
Enrolling in the right dental assistant course is crucial if you want to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require about one year of study before they enter the job market. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Dothan AL.
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