How to Become a Dental Assistant in Opelika Alabama
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Opelika AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the dental assistant school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the one that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program’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 depend on the amount of time and money that you have to commit. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about one year to complete for a diploma or certificate. Meanwhile 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 cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to 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 Function of a Dental Assistant in Opelika AL
Dental assistants are an essential component of any Opelika AL dental practice and can perform a myriad of functions. Their main job description is to give assistance to the admin staff and the dentists. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. A number of dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a specific area, for instance periodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing dental instruments
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so check with the Alabama 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 Opelika AL
Dental assistant courses are offered at Alabama junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including 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 nearly every state. They are also offered in Alabama vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a practical component to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Opelika AL dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Assistant Training Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant school can be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Opelika AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Assistant Schools
Once you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to obtain, you can start the process of comparing Alabama schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Opelika AL area colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Opelika AL often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited Alabama programs.
Is The Appropriate 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 Opelika AL school you choose offers the program that you want. However, keep 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 might have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are just interested in a dental assistant degree, naturally it would not be the right college for you.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Opelika AL area program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Opelika AL dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant programs require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Opelika AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the Opelika AL area programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant colleges can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Opelika AL.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental college, you need to make sure that the assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to attend classes near your Opelika AL home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Opelika AL?
Following is some interesting background information about Opelika Alabama that you may find helpful.
Opelika (pronounced /ˌoʊpəˈlaɪkə/ OH-pə-LY-kə) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the greater Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp".
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
Pick the Right Dental Assistant Program near Opelika AL
Choosing the right dental assistant course is crucial if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require about one year of study before they enter the work force. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you decide 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Opelika AL.
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