How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene School near Gulf Shores Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Gulf Shores AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, for instance the school's reputation and accreditation. 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 accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role 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 on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Gulf Shores AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings 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
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing 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 Training Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Gulf Shores AL dental offices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Gulf Shores AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Gulf Shores AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are comparing 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 final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Gulf Shores AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Gulf Shores AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to receive 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Gulf Shores AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Gulf Shores AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Gulf Shores AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Gulf Shores AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Gulf Shores Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Gulf Shores Alabama.