How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene College near Guntersville Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Guntersville AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including the program'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 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged 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 schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Guntersville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about 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 graduate 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 exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered 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 in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Guntersville AL dental practices are often required to have 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 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 sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind 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 via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Guntersville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced 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 needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Guntersville AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search 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 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 many important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Guntersville AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Guntersville AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Guntersville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Check 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 Guntersville AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Guntersville AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Guntersville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Guntersville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Guntersville Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist program 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 several options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Guntersville Alabama.