How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene School near Lincoln Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Lincoln AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, such as the program'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles 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 biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Lincoln AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal 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 present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Lincoln AL dental offices are usually required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally 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 convenience of your Lincoln AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Lincoln AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Lincoln AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Lincoln AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create professional relationships in the Lincoln AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing 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 Lincoln AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Lincoln AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Lincoln AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Lincoln AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, 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 have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Lincoln Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Lincoln Alabama.