How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist School near Demopolis Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Demopolis AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, including the school's reputation and accreditation. 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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role 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 Demopolis AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Demopolis AL dental practices are normally 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 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Demopolis AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Demopolis AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually 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 establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Demopolis AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Demopolis AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means 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 create professional relationships in the Demopolis AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching 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 Demopolis AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Demopolis AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance 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 expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Demopolis AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Demopolis AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Demopolis Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Demopolis Alabama.