How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Gadsden Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Gadsden AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, including the college's accreditation and reputation. 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Gadsden AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. When 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 employed in Gadsden AL dental practices are often 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 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Gadsden AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gadsden AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gadsden AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Gadsden AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, clinical 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 build professional relationships in the Gadsden AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gadsden AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Gadsden AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to 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 programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gadsden AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Gadsden AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Gadsden Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gadsden Alabama.