How to Become a Dental Assistant in Grand Rapids Michigan
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Grand Rapids MI is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the dental assistant program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your residence. There are other significant 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 be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to commit. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s look at the roles of dental assistants and further discuss the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant in Grand Rapids MI
Dental assistants are an indispensable component of any Grand Rapids MI dental practice and can carry out a variety of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running efficiently. Many dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a particular area, for example periodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, for example:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Readying patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Michigan dental board for your state’s policies. Assistants working with X-ray machines most 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) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Education Options near Grand Rapids MI
Dental assistant programs are available at Michigan junior colleges along with vocational or technical schools. As previously mentioned, the most common credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily 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 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 Michigan 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 Grand Rapids MI dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant course can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Grand Rapids MI home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Michigan schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Grand Rapids MI area programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included 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 Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Grand Rapids MI frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited Michigan schools.
Is The Correct Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just make sure that the Grand Rapids MI college you decide on offers the program that you want. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a strong accredited dental hygienist program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only important that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Grand Rapids MI area school you choose offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Grand Rapids MI 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 look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Grand Rapids MI dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the Grand Rapids MI area programs you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant programs can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Grand Rapids MI.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must confirm that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near your Grand Rapids MI home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Grand Rapids MI?
Following is some interesting background information about Grand Rapids Michigan that you may find helpful.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Grand Rapids is the second-largest city in Michigan, and the largest city in West Michigan. It is on the Grand River about 30 miles (48 km) east of Lake Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 188,040. In 2010, the Grand Rapids metropolitan area had a population of 1,005,648, and the combined statistical area of Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland had a population of 1,321,557. Grand Rapids is the county seat of Kent County.
A historic furniture-manufacturing center, Grand Rapids is home to five of the world's leading office furniture companies, and is nicknamed Furniture City. Its more common modern nickname of River City[by whom?] refers to the landmark river for which it was named. The city and surrounding communities are economically diverse, based in the health care, information technology, automotive, aviation, and consumer goods manufacturing industries, among others.
For thousands of years, succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples occupied the area. Over 2000 years ago, people associated with the Hopewell culture occupied the Grand River Valley. Later, a tribe from the Ottawa River traveled to the Grand River valley, fighting three battles with the Prairie Indians who were established in the area. The tribe later split, with the Chippewas settling in the northern lower peninsula, the Pottawatomies staying south of the Kalamazoo River and the Ottawa staying in central Michigan.
Select the Ideal Dental Assistant School near Grand Rapids MI
Enrolling in the ideal 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 a number of options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require roughly one year of study before they enter the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training or credential you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Grand Rapids MI.
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