How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Irondale Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Irondale AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Irondale AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Irondale AL dental offices are generally required to have 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 almost 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 sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Irondale AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Irondale AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending 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 school 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 typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Irondale AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical 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 professional relationships in the Irondale AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Irondale AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Irondale AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with 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 schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Irondale AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Irondale AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Irondale Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives offered to acquire 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 junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Irondale Alabama.