How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene College near Hoover Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Hoover AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, such as the program'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 complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Hoover AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth 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 tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Hoover AL dental offices are normally 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 virtually 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist college may be a viable option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Hoover AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Hoover 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 cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, 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 School Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Hoover AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Hoover AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Hoover AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Hoover AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Hoover AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered 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 assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Hoover AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Hoover Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist course is crucial if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Hoover Alabama.