How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Attalla Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Attalla AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to 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 school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, 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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Attalla AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. When 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 Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Attalla AL dental offices are usually 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Attalla AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area 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 learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Attalla AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost 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 guarantee that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Attalla AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Attalla AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Attalla AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Attalla AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. 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 schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Attalla AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Attalla AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Attalla Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Attalla Alabama.