How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Bay Minette Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Bay Minette AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually 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 cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job 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 Bay Minette AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After 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 Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Bay Minette AL dental offices are usually required to hold 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 nearly 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Bay Minette AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bay Minette AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Bay Minette AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers adequate 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, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Bay Minette AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Bay Minette AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Bay Minette AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Bay Minette AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Bay Minette AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Bay Minette AL in the evenings 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 need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Bay Minette Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two 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 addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared 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.