How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Helena Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Helena AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues 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 complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest 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, deal with the patients more on an individual 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. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After 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
Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Helena AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for obtaining 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 convenience of your Helena AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Helena AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options as well. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to make 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 ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Helena AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Helena AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way 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 create professional relationships in the Helena AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require help obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Helena AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Helena AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Helena AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Helena AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, 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 need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Helena Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Helena Alabama.