How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Bay Minette Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Bay Minette AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze 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 closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties 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 assists the Bay Minette AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Bay Minette AL dental practices are usually 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Bay Minette AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bay Minette 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 location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bay Minette AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Bay Minette AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to get hands-on, clinical 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 create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Bay Minette AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Bay Minette AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Bay Minette AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Bay Minette AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Bay Minette Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount 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 schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. 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 ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bay Minette Alabama.