How to Become a Dental Assistant in West Helena Arkansas
Picking the right dental assistant school near West Helena AR is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the dental assistant school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the one that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your first step is to decide which of the 2 credentials you are most interested in getting training for, which may be contingent on the amount of money and time that you have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about 12 months 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options available.
The Duties of Dental Assistants in West Helena AR
Dental assistants are an integral component of any West Helena AR dental practice and can undertake a multitude of duties. Their principal job description is to provide support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice running successfully. Many dental assistants opt to specialize and obtain certification in a specific area, such as pediatrics. Even so most assistants carry out any job that they are called upon to complete, including:
- Setting and confirming appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Prepping X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Ordering dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants differ by state, so consult with the Arkansas dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be certified and licensed. Most dental assistants who are either required or choose to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Education Options near West Helena AR
Dental assistant courses are available at Arkansas junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most frequent credential earned is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about 1 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 take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are also offered in Arkansas trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with West Helena AR dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Classes
Choosing an online dental assistant program can be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your West Helena AR home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Assistant Colleges
After you have selected the dental specialization and kind of credential you want to attain, you can begin the process of comparing Arkansas programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the West Helena AR area programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Assistant School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental assistant program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, 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 of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in West Helena AR typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited Arkansas colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Available? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just make certain that the West Helena AR college you decide on has the program that you want. However, keep in mind that even if a college has an excellent reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong 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, naturally it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind 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 West Helena AR area college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in an area dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real West Helena AR dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental assistant programs need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the West Helena AR dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the West Helena AR area schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental assistant programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example 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 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 examining the cost of colleges, don’t forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in West Helena AR.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to verify that the assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near your West Helena AR home in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near West Helena AR?
Following is some interesting background information about West Helena Arkansas that you may find helpful.
Helena–West Helena, Arkansas
Helena–West Helena is the county seat of and the largest city within Phillips County, Arkansas, United States. The current city was consolidated, effective January 1, 2006, from the two Arkansas cities of Helena and West Helena. Helena is sited on lowlands between the Mississippi River and the eastern side of Crowley's Ridge. West Helena is located on the western side of Crowley's Ridge, a geographic anomaly in the typically flat Arkansas Delta. The Helena Bridge, one of Arkansas' four Mississippi River bridges, carries U.S. Route 49 across to Mississippi. The combined population of the two cities was 15,012 at the 2000 census and at the 2010 census, the official population was 12,282.
The municipality traces its historical roots to the founding of the port town of Helena on the Mississippi River by European Americans in 1833. As the county seat, Helena was the center of a prosperous cotton plantation region in the antebellum years. Helena was occupied by the Union Army early in the American Civil War. The city was the site of the Battle of Helena fought in 1863. Confederate forces unsuccessfully tried to expel Union forces from Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Later in the year, Helena served as the launching point for the Union Army in the capture of Little Rock, the state capital.
A thriving blues community developed here in the 1940s and 1950s as rural musicians relocated for city jobs. Mechanization had reduced the need for farm workers. The city continued to grow until the closing of the Mohawk Rubber Company, a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber Company, in the 1970s. Unemployment surged shortly after.
Pick the Right Dental Assistant College near West Helena AR
Enrolling in the ideal dental assistant course is essential if you intend to take the CDA exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. You can receive your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive a Certificate. Dental Assistants generally require approximately one year of study before they enter the job market. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of education or credential you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in West Helena AR.
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