How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene School near Irondale Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Irondale AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider also, for instance the program's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Irondale AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting 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 results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Irondale AL dental offices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program 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 convenience of your Irondale AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the ideal choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Irondale AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good 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 almost 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Irondale AL dental practices often prefer 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 programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Irondale AL dental practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to obtain hands-on, practical 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 build professional relationships in the Irondale AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Irondale AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Irondale AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can 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 vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Irondale AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Irondale AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Irondale Dental Hygienist Training
Picking 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 you now know, there are many alternatives available to acquire 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Irondale Alabama.