How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Gadsden Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Gadsden AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including the college'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 complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Gadsden AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Gadsden AL dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Gadsden AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gadsden AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition 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 establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gadsden AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Gadsden AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain 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 are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Gadsden AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? 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 increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Gadsden AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial 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 schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gadsden AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Gadsden AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Gadsden Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose 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 commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gadsden Alabama.