How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Irondale Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Irondale AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the college'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 accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role 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 in support of the Irondale AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated 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 licensure exams. After they have completed 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
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Irondale AL dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest 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 working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Irondale AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Even though these are relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Irondale AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Irondale AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive 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 develop professional relationships in the Irondale AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Irondale AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Irondale AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs 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 add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Irondale AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Irondale AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Best Irondale Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Irondale Alabama.