How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist College near Andalusia Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Andalusia AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important 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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Andalusia 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 room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Andalusia AL dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely 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 comfort of your Andalusia AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Andalusia AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Andalusia AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Andalusia AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Andalusia AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Andalusia AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Andalusia AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Andalusia AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Andalusia Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to receive your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Andalusia Alabama.