How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Gardendale Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist college near Gardendale AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Gardendale AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gardendale AL dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Gardendale AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gardendale AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to make 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 ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gardendale AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Gardendale AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gardendale AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Gardendale AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gardendale 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 continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Gardendale AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Gardendale Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gardendale Alabama.