How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Decatur Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Decatur AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, for instance 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Decatur AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 exams. When 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
As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Decatur AL dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Decatur AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Decatur AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify 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 instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Decatur AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Decatur AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Decatur AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the programs you are looking at how large 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 tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Decatur AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. 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 analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Decatur AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Decatur AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Decatur Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Decatur Alabama.