How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Fort Payne Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Fort Payne AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider also, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Fort Payne AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. Once 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 Training Options
As a result of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Fort Payne AL dental practices are often 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 virtually 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fort Payne AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
Subjects 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 programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fort Payne AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Fort Payne AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Fort Payne AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Fort Payne AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Fort Payne AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Fort Payne AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Fort Payne Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist course is essential if you wish 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 training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. 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 selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fort Payne Alabama.