How to Become a Dental Assistant in Anchorage Alaska
Picking the ideal dental assistant school near Anchorage AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the dental assistant training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two credentials you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program generally takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of dental assistants and further discuss the training options available.
The Function of a Dental Assistant in Anchorage AK
Dental assistants are an important part of any Anchorage AK dental practice and can perform a variety of functions. Their fundamental job description is to furnish assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many dental assistants choose to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as periodontics. However the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants working with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Many dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Training Options near Anchorage AK
Dental assistant courses are provided at Alaska community colleges in addition to trade or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most typical credential earned is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. These programs can require 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 Alaska community colleges and technical schools. Regardless of whether you are pursuing earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Anchorage AK dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant school may be a viable option for obtaining 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 comfort of your Anchorage AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Assistant Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you wish to earn, you can start the procedure of comparing Alaska schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Anchorage AK area schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Anchorage AK often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited Alaska schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just make sure that the Anchorage AK school you decide on has the program that’s right for you. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an excellent reputation as well as 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are just interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only important that the school you select offers 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, check that the Anchorage AK area college you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Anchorage AK 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant schools require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Anchorage AK dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Anchorage AK area schools you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are 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 leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, 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 substantial expenses 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Anchorage AK.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near your Anchorage AK home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, 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 work, illness or family issues.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Anchorage AK?
Following is some interesting background information about Anchorage Alaska that you may find helpful.
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 cargo flights and is home to a major FedEx hub, which the company calls a "critical part" of its global network of services.
Pick the Best Dental Assistant School near Anchorage AK
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant course is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require about one year of study before they enter the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Anchorage AK.
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