How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist School near Helena Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Helena AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the school'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 accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing 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 Helena AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Helena AL dental practices are normally required to have 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 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program 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 Helena AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Helena AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives 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. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Helena AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Helena AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need help landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Helena AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Helena AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Helena AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Helena AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Helena Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama.