How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Alexander City Alabama
Picking 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 examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance 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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations 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 offered.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role 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 in support of the Alexander City AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- 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. When 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 Training Options
As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Alexander City AL dental offices 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 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a good alternative for getting 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 remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Alexander City AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Alexander City AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Alexander City AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Alexander City AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Alexander City AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Alexander City AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward 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 programs can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find 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 must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Alexander City AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Alexander City Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Alexander City Alabama.