How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Madison Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Madison AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Madison AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding 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 Examination as well as any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Madison AL dental offices 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 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school can be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Madison AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Madison AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options also. Although these are relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. 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 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. Madison AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose provides adequate 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, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Madison AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are considering have an internship program. Internships are probably the best method to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Check if the schools 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 Madison AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are looking at how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Madison AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with 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 examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Madison AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Madison 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 making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Madison Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are several options offered to receive your education 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 community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Madison Alabama.