How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Huntsville Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Huntsville AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the college'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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job 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 Huntsville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensing exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Huntsville AL dental offices are generally 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 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a great alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Huntsville AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Huntsville AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually 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 ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Huntsville AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Huntsville AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get 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 professional relationships in the Huntsville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Huntsville AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Huntsville AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with 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 Huntsville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Huntsville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Huntsville Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Huntsville Alabama.