How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Forestdale Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Forestdale AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, including the college'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 accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Forestdale AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Forestdale AL dental practices 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Forestdale AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Forestdale AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College 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 requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Forestdale AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Forestdale AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive hands-on, clinical 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 professional relationships in the Forestdale AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Forestdale AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Forestdale AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public 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 schools, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Forestdale AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Forestdale AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Forestdale Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Forestdale Alabama.