How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Dothan Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Dothan AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, 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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Dothan AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Dothan AL dental practices 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 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 aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Dothan AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical 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 education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Dothan AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Dothan AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide 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 type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Dothan AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get 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 establish professional relationships in the Dothan AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Dothan AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Dothan AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Dothan AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Dothan AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Dothan Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. 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 choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Dothan Alabama.