How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene School near Florence Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Florence AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the school'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 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Florence AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Florence AL dental offices are normally 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 nearly 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a good option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Florence AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Florence AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing 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 ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Florence AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not obtainable for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Florence AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, practical experience in a real 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 also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Florence AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Florence AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example 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 significant expenses 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 programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Florence AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Florence AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Florence Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community 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 prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Florence Alabama.