How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist School near Decatur Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Decatur AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, including the college'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 complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
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 assists the Decatur AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. 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
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once 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 Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Decatur AL dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Decatur AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Decatur AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 guarantee that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Decatur AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Decatur AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, practical 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 build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Decatur AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Decatur AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Decatur AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Decatur AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Decatur Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative 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 a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama.