How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene School near Hamilton Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Hamilton AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Hamilton AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Hamilton AL dental practices are generally 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 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a great option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Hamilton AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hamilton AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Hamilton AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Hamilton AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective way to get 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 form professional relationships in the Hamilton AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Hamilton AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the programs you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a couple of classes at the Hamilton AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Hamilton AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Hamilton AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Hamilton Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hamilton Alabama.