How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist School near Bessemer Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Bessemer AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. 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. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Bessemer AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Bessemer AL dental practices are usually required to have 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 nearly every state. They are offered in trade and technical 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Bessemer AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Bessemer AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college 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 licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Bessemer 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, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Bessemer AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive 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 establish professional relationships in the Bessemer AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting 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 Bessemer AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Bessemer AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs 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 comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Bessemer AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Bessemer AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Bessemer Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative 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 many alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing 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 best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Bessemer Alabama.