How to Become a Dental Assistant in Woodbridge Virginia
Choosing the right dental assistant program near Woodbridge VA is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the dental assistant program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the one that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, for instance the college’s accreditation and reputation. Your initial 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 invest. The most common dental assistant program usually takes about 1 year to complete for a diploma or certificate. On the other hand dental assistants may also earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental assistant schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the duties of dental assistants and further discuss the training options offered.
The Duties of a Dental Assistant in Woodbridge VA
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Woodbridge VA dental office and can carry out a multitude of tasks. Their fundamental job description is to give support to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Some dental assistants choose to specialize and acquire certification in a specific area, for example orthodontics. Even so most assistants perform any job that they are called upon to fulfill, such as:
- Scheduling and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Providing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Preparing X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Virginia dental board for your state’s mandates. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will need 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) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant Training Options near Woodbridge VA
Dental assistant programs are offered at Virginia community colleges as well as technical or vocational schools. As previously mentioned, the most typical credential attained is the certificate, which ordinarily takes about a year to finish. There are fewer Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more extensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assistant courses. These programs can take 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 Virginia vocational schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing earning a certificate or a degree as a dental assistant, there will be a clinical component to the training also. Some programs also offer internships with Woodbridge VA dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Assistant Training
Choosing an online dental assistant course may be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Woodbridge VA home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened 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 needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Assistant Schools
Once you have picked the dental specialty and type of credential you wish to attain, you can start the process of comparing Virginia programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the Woodbridge VA area colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Assistant Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify to take the Certified Dental Assistant exam, your dental college 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 Woodbridge VA often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited Virginia colleges.
Is The Right Dental Program Offered? You can opt to train to become a dental assistant by earning either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. Just confirm that the Woodbridge VA college you decide on has the program that you want. However, keep in mind that just because a college has a good reputation and accreditation does not mean all of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited school may have a strong accredited dental hygienist program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited dental assistant program. So if you are only interested in a dental assistant degree, clearly it would not be the best college for you.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the Woodbridge VA area program you select offers clinical rotation in a local dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional Woodbridge VA dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant schools need help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Woodbridge VA dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the Woodbridge VA area colleges you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental assistant programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs 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 include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in Woodbridge VA.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental school, you need to confirm that the assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near your Woodbridge VA home at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have 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 due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Considering Attending Dental Assistant School near Woodbridge VA?
Following is some interesting background information about Woodbridge Virginia that you may find helpful.
Woodbridge is a census-designated place (CDP) in Prince William County, Virginia, United States, located 20 miles (32 km) south of Washington, D.C. Bounded by the Occoquan and Potomac rivers, Woodbridge Magisterial District had 54,275 residents at the 2010 census. The Woodbridge census-designated place comprises just one portion of the magisterial district and had a population of 4,055 in the 2010 census. The census-designated place consists solely of the section north of Occoquan Road and Dawson Beach Road, and east of Interstate 95.
Woodbridge offers a variety of amenities for residents and visitors, including the Potomac Mills shopping mall and the Stonebridge at Potomac Town Centre Shopping Centers. Woodbridge is served by the Prince William County Public Schools, and the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College borders the district. Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, formerly Potomac Hospital, recently expanded and now has the capacity to serve 183 patients. Transportation includes access to Interstate 95, two VRE commuter train stations, bus service, and a local “slugging” system, offering residents a variety of transit options.
Woodbridge offers a wide range of recreational opportunities for resident and visitors. The Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a natural habitat for a variety of plant and animal life including the bald eagles and ospreys. Veteran’s Park and Leesylvania State Park are located on the Potomac River and provide swimming, boating, picnic and hiking services. Close-by is Rippon Lodge, the oldest house in Prince William County, which is open for tours throughout the summer. Trails at Leesylvania Park lead to the ancestral home of the Lee family.
Pick the Right Dental Assistant College near Woodbridge VA
Picking the ideal dental assistant program is imperative if you wish to take the CDA exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental assistant. You can acquire your formal training through dental programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn a Certificate. Dental Assistants usually require approximately 1 year of study before they enter the job market. When obtaining a certificate or degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. 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 ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant in Woodbridge VA.
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