How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Fairhope Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Fairhope AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the program's reputation and accreditation. 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. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Fairhope AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled 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 increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Fairhope AL dental practices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Fairhope AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fairhope AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Fairhope AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fairhope AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to receive 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the programs 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 Fairhope AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the programs you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Fairhope AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fairhope AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure 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 Fairhope AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Right Fairhope Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to acquire 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, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fairhope Alabama.