How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Florence Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Florence AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the college'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 finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental 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 contrasting 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 assists the Florence AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting 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 each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating 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 graduate 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may 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 Florence AL dental offices are normally 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Florence AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Florence AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal 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 establish professional relationships in the Florence AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Florence AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Florence AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Florence AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, 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 have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Florence Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.