How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist School near Alabaster Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Alabaster AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Alabaster AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Alabaster AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. 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 offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Alabaster AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Alabaster AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Alabaster AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Alabaster AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Alabaster AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Alabaster AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length 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 besides 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 equipment, materials 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 be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Alabaster AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Alabaster AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have 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 because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Alabaster Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alabaster Alabama.