How to Become a Dental Assistant in Wilmington North Carolina
Choosing the right dental assistant school near Wilmington NC is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make 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 college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two credentials you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. However dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should 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 provided.
The Job of a Dental Assistant in Wilmington NC
Dental assistants are an important part of any Wilmington NC dental office and can undertake a myriad of duties. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working successfully. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. However the majority of assistants carry out any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Readying patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Giving 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 vary by state, so consult with the North Carolina dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines most likely will need to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or opt to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Training Options near Wilmington NC
Dental assistant programs are offered at North Carolina community colleges in addition to vocational or technical schools. As previously mentioned, the most frequent credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about one year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in North Carolina community colleges and technical schools. Whether you are interested in earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a practical aspect to the training also. A number of programs also offer internships with Wilmington NC dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant program can be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Wilmington NC home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialty and kind of credential you want to attain, you can begin the procedure of comparing North Carolina programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the Wilmington NC area schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Wilmington NC frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited North Carolina programs.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can elect to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just make certain that the Wilmington NC school you choose has the program that’s right for you. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and 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 could 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 ideal college for you.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Wilmington NC area college you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Wilmington NC dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant schools require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Wilmington NC dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the Wilmington NC area programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Wilmington NC.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near your Wilmington NC home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Wilmington NC?
Following is some interesting background information about Wilmington North Carolina that you may find helpful.
Wilmington, North Carolina
Wilmington is a port city and the county seat of New Hanover County in coastal southeastern North Carolina, United States. The population is 112,067; according to the 2010 Census it is the eighth most populous city in the state. Wilmington is the principal city of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area, a metropolitan area that includes New Hanover and Pender counties in southeastern North Carolina, which has a population of 263,429 as of the 2012 Census Estimate.
Wilmington was settled by European Americans along the Cape Fear River. The city was named after Spencer Compton who was the Earl of Wilmington. Its historic downtown has a one-mile-long Riverwalk, developed as a tourist attraction in the late 20th century. In 2014 Wilmington's riverfront was ranked as the "Best American Riverfront" by readers of USA Today. It is minutes away from nearby beaches. The National Trust for Historic Preservation selected Wilmington as one of its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. City residents live between the river and the ocean, with four nearby beach communities: Fort Fisher, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, all within half-hour drives from downtown Wilmington.
In 2003 the city was designated by the US Congress as a "Coast Guard City". It is the home port for the USCGC Diligence, a United States Coast Guard medium endurance cutter. The World War II battleship USS North Carolina is held as a war memorial; moored across from the downtown port area, the ship is open to public tours. Other attractions include the Cape Fear Museum, and the Wilmington Hammerheads United Soccer Leagues soccer team. The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) provides a wide variety of programs for undergraduates, graduate students, and adult learners, in addition to cultural and sports events open to the community.
Choose the Right Dental Assistant School near Wilmington NC
Picking the ideal dental assistant program is crucial if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively 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 usually earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require approximately one 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 elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Wilmington NC.
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