How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College near Enterprise Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Enterprise AL is an essential 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 performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, including the program'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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Enterprise AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Enterprise AL dental practices are usually required to hold 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 virtually 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Enterprise AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Enterprise AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Enterprise AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Enterprise AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical 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 establish professional relationships in the Enterprise AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Enterprise AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Enterprise AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Enterprise AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Enterprise AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Enterprise Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking 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 Enterprise Alabama.