How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Alabaster Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Alabaster AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, 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, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Alabaster AL dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Alabaster AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Alabaster AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Alabaster AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Alabaster AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing 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 Alabaster AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Alabaster AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools 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 commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Alabaster AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Alabaster AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Alabaster Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alabaster Alabama.