How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene College near Jacksonville Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Jacksonville AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Jacksonville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Jacksonville AL dental practices are generally required to have 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 nearly 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school might be a great option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Jacksonville AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Jacksonville AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options also. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Jacksonville AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Jacksonville AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain 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 create professional relationships in the Jacksonville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Jacksonville AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of 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 instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides 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 costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Jacksonville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Jacksonville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Jacksonville Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Jacksonville Alabama.