How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Forestdale Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist college near Forestdale AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role 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 Forestdale AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting 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 room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure exams. 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 Degree Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Forestdale AL dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a good option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Forestdale AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Forestdale AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. 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 Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Forestdale AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Forestdale AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Forestdale AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Forestdale AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount 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 depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Forestdale AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Forestdale AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical 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 emergencies.
Pick the Best Forestdale Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining 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 in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Forestdale Alabama.