How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene Training Program near Alexander City Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Alexander City AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job 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 assists the Alexander City AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Alexander City AL dental practices are generally 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a good option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Alexander City AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed 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 discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Alexander City AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Alexander City AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Alexander City AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real 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 look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Alexander City AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Alexander City AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Alexander City AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Alexander City AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Alexander City Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend 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 best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alexander City Alabama.