How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Meridianville Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Meridianville AL is an important first step toward beginning 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 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 significant issues to take into account as well, such as the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these issues and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Meridianville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Meridianville AL dental offices are generally 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Meridianville 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 have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Meridianville AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. 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 Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Meridianville AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist programs have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Meridianville AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, clinical 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 develop professional relationships in the Meridianville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Meridianville AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Meridianville AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Meridianville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Meridianville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still need 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 due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Best Meridianville Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two 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 addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Meridianville Alabama.