How to Become a Dental Assistant in Washington District of Columbia
Selecting the right dental assistant school near Washington DC is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the dental assistant program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the one that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, such as the college’s accreditation and reputation. 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 have to invest. The most common dental assistant program normally takes about one year 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 complete. Obviously with the prolonged training comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental assistant schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let’s look at the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options offered.
The Function of a Dental Assistant in Washington DC
Dental assistants are an integral part of any Washington DC dental office and can perform a variety of functions. Their main job description is to furnish assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice operating efficiently. Many dental assistants choose to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, such as orthodontics. Even so the majority of assistants perform any duty that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and confirming appointments
- Preparing patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dentists
- Clearing patients’ mouths with suction equipment
- Handing 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 differ by state, so consult with the District of Columbia dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants working with X-ray machines most likely will have to be licensed and certified. A large number of dental assistants who are either required or elect to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Training Options near Washington DC
Dental assistant programs are offered at District of Columbia junior colleges in addition to technical or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most common credential attained is the certificate, which usually takes about one year to complete. There are fewer Associate Degree programs offered, and they provide a more extensive 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 almost every state. They are also offered in District of Columbia 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 aspect to the training also. Some programs also sponsor internships with Washington DC dentists or dental practices.
Dental Assistant Online Programs
Selecting an online dental assistant program might be a great option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Washington DC home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant Colleges
Once you have decided on the dental specialization and kind of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the process of comparing District of Columbia schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Washington DC area colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental assistant college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Employers in Washington DC typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited District of Columbia schools.
Is The Correct 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 Washington DC college you select has the program that’s right for you. However, bear 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 college may have a solid 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, clearly it would not be the right college for you.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you enroll in 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the Washington DC area program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Washington DC dental practice. They make it easier for 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 Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental assistant programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Washington DC dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Washington DC area schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don’t forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in Washington DC.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental school, you must verify that the assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near your Washington DC home at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Washington DC?
Following is some interesting background information about Washington District of Columbia that you may find helpful.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States of America. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. Washington is the principal city of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which has a population of 6,131,977. Washington is described as the political Capital of the World, owing to its status as the seat of the United States Federal Government and numerous international institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Washington is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million annual tourists.
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of President George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 693,972 as of July 2017. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's population to more than one million during the workweek. The Washington metropolitan area, of which the District is the principal city, has a population of over 6 million, the sixth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country.
Enroll in the Best Dental Assistant School near Washington DC
Selecting the right dental assistant program is important if you want to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to obtain 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain a Certificate. Dental Assistants normally require about one year of study before they enter the job market. When earning a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever credential or mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Washington DC.
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