How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene College near Albertville Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Albertville AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, 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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Albertville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Albertville AL dental offices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Albertville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Albertville AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college 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. Albertville AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Albertville AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Albertville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Albertville AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Albertville AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Albertville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Albertville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Albertville Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist program 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 offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Albertville Alabama.