How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Hoover Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Hoover AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the program'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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Hoover AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Hoover AL dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 practical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Hoover AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hoover AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Hoover AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. 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 a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Hoover AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best 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 also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering 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 Hoover AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Hoover AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Hoover AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Hoover AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, 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 have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Hoover Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hoover Alabama.