How to Become a Dental Assistant in Fairbanks Alaska
Picking the right dental assistant school near Fairbanks AK is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the dental assistant program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the one that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the 2 credentials you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months to finish 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 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 evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s review the roles of dental assistants and further discuss the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants in Fairbanks AK
Dental assistants are an important part of any Fairbanks AK dental office and can undertake a multitude of functions. Their principal job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. A number of dental assistants elect to specialize and earn certification in a particular area, for instance orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any task that they are asked to complete, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth treatments and cleanings
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Supplying instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and processing X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so check with the Alaska dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling 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) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Education Programs near Fairbanks AK
Dental assistant programs are offered at Alaska community colleges along with vocational or technical schools. As previously mentioned, the most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in Alaska vocational schools and community colleges. 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with Fairbanks AK dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant program may be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairbanks AK home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
After you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to attain, you can start the procedure of comparing Alaska programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the Fairbanks AK area colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Fairbanks AK often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited Alaska colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can decide to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just confirm that the Fairbanks AK college you choose has the program that’s right for you. However, bear in mind that just because a college 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 may have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are primarily interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish 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 kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the Fairbanks AK area program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real Fairbanks AK 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 are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant programs require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fairbanks AK dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the Fairbanks AK area programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 schools, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Fairbanks AK.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near your Fairbanks AK home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Fairbanks AK?
Following is some interesting background information about Fairbanks Alaska that you may find helpful.
Fairbanks is the largest city in the Interior region of Alaska. 2016 estimates put the population of the city proper at 32,751, and put the population of the Fairbanks North Star Borough at 100,605, making it the second most populous metropolitan area in Alaska (after Anchorage). The Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses all of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and is the northernmost Metropolitan Statistical Area in the United States, located 196 driving miles (or 140 air miles) south of the Arctic Circle. Fairbanks is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the founding campus of the University of Alaska system.
Though there was never a permanent Alaska Native settlement at the site of Fairbanks, Athabascan peoples have used the area for thousands of years. An archaeological site excavated on the grounds of the University of Alaska Fairbanks uncovered a Native camp about 3,500 years old. From evidence gathered at the site, archaeologists surmise that Native activities in the area were limited to seasonal hunting and fishing. In addition, archeological sites on the grounds of nearby Fort Wainwright date back 10,000 years. Arrowheads excavated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks site matched similar items found in Asia, providing some of the first evidence that humans arrived in North America via the land bridge.
Captain E. T. Barnette founded Fairbanks in August 1901 while headed to Tanacross (or Tanana Crossing, where the Valdez–Eagle trail crossed the Tanana River), where he intended to set up a trading post. The steamboat on which Barnette was a passenger, the Lavelle Young, ran aground while attempting to negotiate shallow water. Barnette, along with his party and supplies, were deposited along the banks of the Chena River 7 miles (11 km) upstream from its confluence with the Tanana River. The sight of smoke from the steamer's engines caught the attention of gold prospectors working in the hills to the north, most notably an Italian immigrant named Felice Pedroni (better known as Felix Pedro) and his partner Tom Gilmore. The two met Barnette where he disembarked and convinced him of the potential of the area. Barnette set up his trading post at the site, still intending to eventually make it to Tanacross. Teams of gold prospectors soon congregated in and around the newly founded Fairbanks; they built drift mines, dredges, and lode mines in addition to panning and sluicing.
Choose the Right Dental Assistant Program near Fairbanks AK
Choosing the ideal dental assistant program is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants typically require about one year of study prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Fairbanks AK.
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