How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Hartselle Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Hartselle AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, such as the college'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 finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Hartselle AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hartselle AL dental offices are often 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 nearly 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Hartselle AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hartselle AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many important 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 nearly 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 establish that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hartselle AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Hartselle AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Hartselle AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Hartselle AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with 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 analyzing the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Hartselle AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Hartselle AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Hartselle Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program 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 options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hartselle Alabama.