How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist School near Gardendale Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Gardendale AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, such as the school'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 accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Gardendale AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gardendale AL dental practices are normally required to hold 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 almost 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a viable option for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Gardendale AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gardendale AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order 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. Gardendale AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Gardendale AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Gardendale AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gardendale AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Gardendale AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Gardendale AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Gardendale AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Gardendale Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gardendale Alabama.