How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Athens Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Athens AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to consider also, for instance 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 accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Athens AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Athens AL dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Athens AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Athens AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Athens AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Athens AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive 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 develop professional relationships in the Athens AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Athens AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Athens AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost 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, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Athens AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Athens AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical 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 Athens Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing 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 best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Athens Alabama.