How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist College near Clay Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Clay AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors 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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Clay AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first 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 also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Clay AL dental offices are often 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 almost 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Clay AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Clay AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Clay AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Clay AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form professional relationships in the Clay AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering 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 Clay AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Clay AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Clay AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Clay AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Clay Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided 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 Clay Alabama.