How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene College near Madison Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Madison AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your home. There are other important factors to take into account as well, including 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 finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs 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 Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Madison AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled 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 employed in Madison AL dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the comfort of your Madison AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Madison AL, you can begin the procedure 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. Possibly they look for several online options also. Even though these are significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Madison AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Madison AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental programs you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal 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 Madison AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Madison AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Madison AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance 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 enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Madison AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Madison Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist course is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your education 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, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Madison Alabama.