How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College near Hamilton Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Hamilton AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. 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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Hamilton AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast 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 two to as long as three 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 sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Hamilton AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hamilton AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. 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 program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Hamilton AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Hamilton AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at 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 Hamilton AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Hamilton AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Hamilton AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Hamilton AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Hamilton Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to acquire 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally 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 choose to attend 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 appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hamilton Alabama.