How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist College near Florence Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Florence AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial 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 accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating 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 biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Florence AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Florence AL dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Florence AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
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 discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, 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 included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify 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 instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Florence AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in provides sufficient 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, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching 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 profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges 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, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Florence AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Florence AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical 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 Florence Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.