How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Gardendale Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Gardendale AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Gardendale AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work 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 area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gardendale AL dental offices are usually 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Gardendale AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gardendale AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually 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 training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Gardendale AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Gardendale AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the best way to get 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Gardendale AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Gardendale AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gardendale AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Gardendale AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Gardendale Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is crucial 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 numerous alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gardendale Alabama.