How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College near Bessemer Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Bessemer AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting 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 Bessemer AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensure 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 Training Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Bessemer AL dental offices 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Bessemer AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bessemer AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Bessemer AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Bessemer AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Bessemer AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Bessemer AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bessemer AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Bessemer AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Bessemer Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama.