How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Fultondale Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Fultondale AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually 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 longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Fultondale AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial 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 also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Fultondale AL dental offices are normally required to hold 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 community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a good option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind 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 provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Fultondale AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Fultondale AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Fultondale AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Fultondale AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, practical 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Fultondale AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Fultondale AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Fultondale AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Fultondale AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Fultondale Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist course is imperative 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 options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Fultondale Alabama.