How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Greenville Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Greenville AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account 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 two to three years to accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Greenville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Examination as well as any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Greenville AL dental practices are often 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a good option for receiving 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 available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Greenville AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. 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 get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
Subjects to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Greenville AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Although these are significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Greenville AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Greenville AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get 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 create professional relationships in the Greenville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing 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 Greenville AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Greenville AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Greenville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Greenville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Greenville Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning 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 presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Greenville Alabama.