How to Become a Dental Assistant in Muscle Shoals Alabama
Choosing the right dental assistant training course near Muscle Shoals AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the dental assistant training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the one that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the college’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 have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to complete for a diploma or certificate. 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 cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s review the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant in Muscle Shoals AL
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Muscle Shoals AL dental office and can undertake a wide range of tasks. Their principal job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. Or simply put, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, such as orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. Most dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Education Options near Muscle Shoals AL
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges along with trade or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Alabama community colleges and technical schools. 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with Muscle Shoals AL dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant school can be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Muscle Shoals AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Assistant Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Muscle Shoals AL area colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant college. If you are intending 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 program 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 Muscle Shoals AL often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just confirm that the Muscle Shoals AL college you choose has the program that you want. However, bear in mind that even if a college has an exceptional reputation and 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are solely interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the best school for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Muscle Shoals AL area program you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional Muscle Shoals AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental assistant colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Muscle Shoals AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the Muscle Shoals AL area schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Muscle Shoals AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near your Muscle Shoals AL home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Muscle Shoals AL?
Following is some interesting background information about Muscle Shoals Alabama that you may find helpful.
Muscle Shoals, Alabama
Both the city and the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Area (including four cities in Colbert and Lauderdale counties) are commonly called "the Shoals".Northwest Alabama Regional Airport serves the Shoals region, located in the northwest section of the state.
Since the 1960s, the city has been known for music – developing the "Muscle Shoals Sound", as local recording studios (including FAME Studios in the late 1950s and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1969) produced hit records that shaped the history of popular music.
Due to its strategic location along the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals played a key role in historic land disputes between Native Americans and Anglo-American settlers in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Pick the Best Dental Assistant Program near Muscle Shoals AL
Picking the right dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require approximately one year of study prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Muscle Shoals AL.
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