How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Atmore Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Atmore AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Atmore AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as 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 in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Atmore AL dental practices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 technical 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Atmore AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Atmore AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Atmore AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers adequate 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 school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Atmore AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get 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 build professional relationships in the Atmore AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Atmore AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Atmore AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Atmore AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Atmore AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Atmore Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose 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 better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Atmore Alabama.