How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Madison Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Madison AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance the college'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 complete. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. 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 often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Madison AL dental practices are often required to have 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 virtually 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college may be a good alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Madison AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area 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 discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
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 covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Madison AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Madison AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Madison AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are evaluating how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Madison AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Madison AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Madison AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Madison Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated 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 period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Madison Alabama.