How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Bay Minette Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Bay Minette AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the school'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Bay Minette AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal 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 gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Bay Minette AL dental practices are often 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 finish 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Bay Minette AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask 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 start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, 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. Bay Minette AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Bay Minette AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical 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 also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Bay Minette AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Bay Minette AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered 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 must 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 must go to classes near Bay Minette AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, 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 due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Bay Minette Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is essential 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 many options available to obtain your education 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bay Minette Alabama.