How to Become a Dental Assistant in Birmingham Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental assistant training course near Birmingham AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the dental assistant school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider also, including the college’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 credentials you are most interested in obtaining training for, which may be contingent on the amount of time and money that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 1 year to finish for a diploma or certificate. However dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of dental assistants and further discuss the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant in Birmingham AL
Dental assistants are an important part of any Birmingham AL dental practice and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to furnish 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 earn certification in a particular area, such as pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any duty that they are asked to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Licensing and certification requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alabama dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Education Options near Birmingham AL
Dental assistant programs are provided at Alabama community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. As previously mentioned, the most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more expansive 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in Alabama trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are interested in earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with Birmingham AL dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Schools
Choosing an online dental assistant course may be a good option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Birmingham AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Assistant Programs
When you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you want to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Alabama programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Birmingham AL area schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Birmingham AL frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited Alabama schools.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just make certain that the Birmingham AL school you choose offers the program that you want. However, bear in mind that even if a school has a good reputation as well as accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a solid accredited dental hygienist program, but could have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the best school for you.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the program you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Birmingham AL area program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real Birmingham AL dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching 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 Birmingham AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the Birmingham AL area programs you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental assistant programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Birmingham AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near your Birmingham AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Birmingham AL?
Following is some interesting background information about Birmingham Alabama that you may find helpful.
Birmingham (/ˈbɜːrmɪŋhæm/ BUR-ming-ham) is a city located in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2017 population of 210,710, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2017, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,149,807, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
Birmingham was founded in 1871, during the post-Civil War Reconstruction era, through the merger of three pre-existing farm towns, most notably Elyton. The new city was named for Birmingham, England, the UK's second largest city and, at the time, a major industrial city. The Alabama city annexed smaller neighbors and developed as an industrial center, based on mining, the new iron and steel industry, and rail transport. Most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry. The city was developed as a place where cheap, non-unionized immigrant labor (primarily Irish and Italian), along with African-American labor from rural Alabama, could be employed in the city's steel mills and blast furnaces, giving it a competitive advantage over unionized industrial cities in the Midwest and Northeast.:14
From its founding through the end of the 1960s, Birmingham was a primary industrial center of the southern United States. Its growth from 1881 through 1920 earned it nicknames such as "The Magic City" and "The Pittsburgh of the South". Its major industries were iron and steel production. Major components of the railroad industry, rails and railroad cars, were manufactured in Birmingham. Since the 1860s, the two primary hubs of railroading in the "Deep South" have been Birmingham and Atlanta. The economy diversified in the latter half of the 20th century. Banking, telecommunications, transportation, electrical power transmission, medical care, college education, and insurance have become major economic activities. Birmingham ranks as one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Also, it is among the most important business centers in the Southeast.
Enroll in the Right Dental Assistant College near Birmingham AL
Selecting the right dental assistant program is important if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can obtain your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require about one year of study before they enter the work force. When pursuing a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training or credential you choose to pursue, by asking 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 begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Birmingham AL.
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