How to Become a Dental Assistant in Huntsville Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental assistant training course near Huntsville AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the dental assistant school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, for instance the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two credentials you are most interested in receiving training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a certificate or diploma. Meanwhile dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should 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 offered.
The Job of a Dental Assistant in Huntsville AL
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Huntsville AL dental office and can undertake a myriad of functions. Their fundamental job description is to furnish support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. A number of dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Education Programs near Huntsville AL
Dental assistant courses are available at Alabama community colleges as well as trade or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in Alabama community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are pursuing earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Huntsville AL dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Assistant Schools
Enrolling in an online dental assistant program can be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Huntsville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office 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 dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can start the process of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Huntsville AL area colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Huntsville AL frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just confirm that the Huntsville AL school you select offers the program that you want. However, bear in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all 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, naturally it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the program you choose 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, confirm that the Huntsville AL area program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Huntsville 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental assistant schools need help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Huntsville AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the Huntsville AL area colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Huntsville AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near your Huntsville AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Huntsville AL?
Following is some interesting background information about Huntsville Alabama that you may find helpful.
Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County and south into Morgan County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 census. Huntsville is the third-largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the five-county Huntsville-Decatur-Albertville, AL Combined Statistical Area, which at the 2013 census estimate had a total population of 683,871. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593 in 2010 to become the 2nd largest in Alabama. Huntsville metro's population reached 441,000 by 2014.
It grew across nearby hills north of the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.
The first settlers of the area were Muscogee-speaking people. The Chickasaw traditionally claim to have settled around 1300 after coming east across the Mississippi. A combination of factors, including depopulation due to disease, land disputes between the Choctaw and Cherokee, and pressures from the United States government had largely depopulated the area prior to 1805. That year Revolutionary War veteran John Hunt settled in the land around the Big Spring. The 1805 Treaty with the Chickasaws and the Cherokee Treaty of Washington of 1806 ceded native claims to the United States Government. The area was subsequently purchased by LeRoy Pope, who named the area Twickenham after the home village of his distant kinsman Alexander Pope.
Enroll in the Ideal Dental Assistant Program near Huntsville AL
Selecting the ideal dental assistant program is essential if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require about 1 year of study before they enter the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Huntsville AL.
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