How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Leeds Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Leeds AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, including the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Naturally with the longer 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 looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Leeds AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Leeds AL dental practices are normally required to hold 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 nearly 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. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Leeds AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist program is the ideal option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Leeds AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. To qualify 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Leeds AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Leeds AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get 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 Leeds AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Leeds AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal 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 feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Leeds AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Leeds AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Leeds AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Leeds Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the right dental hygienist program 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 acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Leeds Alabama.