How to Choose the Best Dental Hygiene School near Jacksonville Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist college near Jacksonville AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the school'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Jacksonville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Jacksonville AL dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 vocational schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a good alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Jacksonville AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Jacksonville AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online options as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Jacksonville AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides 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 school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Jacksonville AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the ideal method 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 working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Jacksonville AL dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are looking at how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Jacksonville AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with 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 Jacksonville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Jacksonville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Jacksonville Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training 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 roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Jacksonville Alabama.