How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Clanton Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Clanton AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Clanton AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching 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 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 completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Clanton AL dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Clanton AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Clanton AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Clanton AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Clanton AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Clanton AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Clanton AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Clanton AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Clanton AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Clanton Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose 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 better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Clanton Alabama.