How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene College near Bay Minette Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Bay Minette AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the program'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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Bay Minette AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the additional responsibility as compared 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 two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in trade and vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Bay Minette AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bay Minette AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these are important initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Bay Minette AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want 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 Bay Minette AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help 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 too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Bay Minette AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Bay Minette AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bay Minette AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Bay Minette AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Bay Minette Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the ideal 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 we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bay Minette Alabama.