How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Hamilton Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Hamilton AL is an essential initial step toward starting 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 completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance 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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Hamilton AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hamilton AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Hamilton AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
What 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 programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hamilton AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
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 also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Hamilton AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Hamilton AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high 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 refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Hamilton AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Hamilton AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Hamilton AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Hamilton Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential 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 options offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hamilton Alabama.