How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Fort Payne Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Fort Payne AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, for instance 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Fort Payne AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- 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 as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fort Payne AL dental practices are usually required to have 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 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 Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Fort Payne AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fort Payne AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fort Payne AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Fort Payne AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build professional relationships in the Fort Payne AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fort Payne AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Fort Payne AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fort Payne AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Fort Payne AL at nights 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 need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Fort Payne Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program 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 several alternatives offered to acquire 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 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 presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fort Payne Alabama.