How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Clanton Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Clanton AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account as well, such as the college'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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Clanton AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every 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 tartar, stains 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Clanton AL dental practices are usually 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Clanton AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Clanton AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some 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 colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Clanton AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Clanton AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain 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 create professional relationships in the Clanton AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Clanton 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 schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Clanton AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. 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 comparing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Clanton AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Clanton AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required 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 work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Clanton Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Clanton Alabama.