How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene College near Alexander City Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Alexander City AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the school'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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Alexander City AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Alexander City AL dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Alexander City AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online 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 begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Alexander City AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you select provides enough 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, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Alexander City AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Alexander City AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Alexander City AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Alexander City AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Alexander City AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Alexander City AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose 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 because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Alexander City Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alexander City Alabama.