How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene College near Meadowbrook Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Meadowbrook AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Meadowbrook AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Meadowbrook AL dental offices are usually 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 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember 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 by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Meadowbrook AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Meadowbrook AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Meadowbrook AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you select offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Meadowbrook AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Find out 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 Meadowbrook AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes often are impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Meadowbrook AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending 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 public or private also have an impact. But besides 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 equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Meadowbrook AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Meadowbrook AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Meadowbrook Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Meadowbrook Alabama.