How to Become a Dental Assistant in Palmer Alaska
Choosing the right dental assistant school near Palmer AK is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the dental assistant college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the one that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account also, such as the program’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the two credentials you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing 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 two to three years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options available.
The Job of a Dental Assistant in Palmer AK
Dental assistants are an integral component of any Palmer AK dental office and can perform a multitude of functions. Their main job description is to give assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating successfully. Many dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example orthodontics. However the majority of assistants carry out any duty that they are called upon to fulfill, including:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering office and dental supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state, so consult with the Alaska dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants dealing with X-ray machines more than likely will need to be licensed and certified. A large number of 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 Programs near Palmer AK
Dental assistant programs are available at Alaska junior colleges along with technical or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most frequent credential acquired is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they provide a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant classes. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are also offered in Alaska trade schools and community colleges. Regardless of whether you are pursuing earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also offer internships with Palmer AK dental practices or dentists.
Dental Assistant Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant program may be a viable alternative 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 remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Palmer AK home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant Programs
After you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to earn, you can start the process of comparing Alaska programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the Palmer AK area colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Employers in Palmer AK often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited Alaska schools.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just make sure that the Palmer AK school you decide on offers the program that’s right for you. However, keep in mind that just because a college has an exceptional reputation as well as 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 might 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 right college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It’s not only essential that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the Palmer AK area program you select offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Palmer AK dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental assistant colleges require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Palmer AK dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Palmer AK area colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental assistant training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Palmer AK.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you must verify that the assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near your Palmer AK home at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Palmer AK?
Following is some interesting background information about Palmer Alaska that you may find helpful.
Palmer is a city in and the borough seat of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 5,937.
The first people to live in the Matanuska Valley, where Palmer is located, were the Dena'ina and Ahtna Athabaskans. They moved throughout the area, living a subsistence lifestyle and trading with other native groups. Their trade routes were along the Matanuska River. Russians came to Alaska in 1741 and brought the Russian Orthodox religious tradition to the indigenous peoples of the region. In the early 1890s, an entrepreneur named George W. Palmer built a trading post on the Matanuska River, near present-day Palmer. The town was later named after Palmer.
In the late 19th century, the U.S. government began to take interest in the Matanuska coal fields located north of Palmer. This interest sparked financiers to consider constructing the Alaska Central Railroad in 1904. The advent of World War I created a need for high quality coal to fuel U.S. battleships, and by 1917 the US Navy had constructed rail from the port of Seward to the Chickaloon coal deposits. At the end of World War I, the U.S. Navy distributed land in the coal fields to war veterans and additional land was opened to homesteading. Farmers, miners and homesteaders began to populate the area. The Palmer Post Office was opened July 6, 1917 under the name of Warton. With railroad accessibility, new markets for agriculture began to open up for farmers in the Matanuska Valley.
Pick the Ideal Dental Assistant College near Palmer AK
Picking the right dental assistant course is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require roughly 1 year of study prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Palmer AK.
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