How to Become a Dental Assistant in Alabaster Alabama
Selecting the right dental assistant program near Alabaster AL 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 far more to completing your due diligence than picking the dental assistant program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, including the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 credentials you are most interested in receiving training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to finish for a certificate or diploma. However dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the longer training comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants in Alabaster AL
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Alabaster AL dental practice and can perform a multitude of functions. Their fundamental job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many dental assistants elect to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example pediatrics. Even so most assistants perform any duty that they are called upon to complete, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping 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
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most 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 Alabaster AL
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alabama junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most common credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs offered, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, incorporating general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. These programs can require 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 Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with Alabaster AL dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Schools
Selecting an online dental assistant course can be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Alabaster AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened 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 proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Assistant Programs
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you wish to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the Alabaster AL area programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Alabaster AL often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just verify that the Alabaster AL college you select has the program that you want. However, keep in mind that just because a college 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, obviously it would not be the ideal college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Alabaster AL area program you select offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real Alabaster AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Alabaster AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the Alabaster AL area programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
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 clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Alabaster AL.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to confirm that the assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near your Alabaster AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Alabaster AL?
Following is some interesting background information about Alabaster Alabama that you may find helpful.
Alabaster is a city and southern suburb of Birmingham in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 30,352. According to the 2013 Census Estimates, the city had a population of 31,342. Alabaster is the 16th largest city in Alabama (by number of residents) and still a growing population.
Alabaster mostly occupies the Cahaba and Opossum Valleys, which are divided by the Pine Ridge that runs north to south. To the east and west, both valleys are flanked by parallel mountain ridges that locally run north to south, but are a part of a larger system of ridges that generally runs north-east to south-west (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills). The valleys are drained by small creeks (Buck Creek, Beaverdam Creek) which flow into the Cahaba River.
George L. Scott, Sr., an Alabaster pioneer, owned and operated Alabaster Lime Co. His shipping point was known as “Scott Rock”. Later, housing was built to accommodate some of the employees, and the community acquired its name Alabaster from the "white calcium carbonate mineral". The First Bank of Alabaster opened in 1952, and its president was George L. Scott, Jr., who later became the first mayor of Alabaster. The first attempt in 1952 to incorporate Alabaster failed. In January 1953, the petition was again filed, and on February 23, 1953, Alabaster was officially incorporated with a favorable vote of 79 to 23, and 427 residing inhabitants. In 1955, the Alabaster Water and Gas Board was formed.
Choose the Best Dental Assistant College near Alabaster AL
Selecting the ideal 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 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 education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require about 1 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 education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Alabaster AL.
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