How to Become a Dental Assistant in Helena Alabama
Picking the ideal dental assistant program near Helena AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the dental assistant school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two credentials you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about one year to finish for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the more extensive training comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options provided.
The Role of Dental Assistants in Helena AL
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Helena AL dental office and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their main job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Giving instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Training Options near Helena AL
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama junior colleges along with trade or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in Alabama trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with Helena AL dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant course can be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Helena AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical 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 appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant Schools
When you have selected the dental specialization and type of credential you want to obtain, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Helena AL area programs 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 ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental school 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. Employers in Helena AL frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited Alabama colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just verify that the Helena AL college you choose offers the program that you want. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental hygienist program, but might have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the ideal school for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental programs have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Helena AL area program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Helena 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Helena AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Helena AL area schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Helena AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you must verify that the assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near your Helena AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Helena AL?
Following is some interesting background information about Helena Alabama that you may find helpful.
Helena (pronunciation hel-LE-nah) is a city in Jefferson and Shelby Counties in the state of Alabama. Helena is considered a suburb of Birmingham and part of the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,793. Helena is highly regarded as a place to live and raise children; Business Week named Helena the 13th "Best Place to Raise Your Kids" in 2007. It has the eighth-lowest crime rate per population in the U.S., and the city was ranked in Money magazine's 2007 list of "Best Places to Live: Top 100" in the U.S., placing at number 91. The Alabama League of Municipalities awarded Helena the 2008 Municipal Achievement Award (population 10,001 to 20,000).
Helena initially incorporated in 1877, but reincorporated in 1917 after errors were discovered in the initial incorporation papers. It did not first appear on the U.S. Census until 1920, giving credence to the later date of incorporation.
The initial settlers to Helena, initially named Cove, were veterans of the final campaigns of the War of 1812. Members of Andrew Jackson's army who cut through the brush were attracted to the quiet, peaceful valleys and streams after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. These first settlers were reported to arrive in 1849 and were predated by the Creek Indian tribes who these settlers had battled. By 1856, the Cove post office opened. Shortly thereafter, the settlers changed the name of the town to Hillsboro.
Pick the Right Dental Assistant College near Helena AL
Picking the ideal dental assistant program is imperative if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require approximately 1 year of study prior to entering the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Helena AL.
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