How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Midfield Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Midfield AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to consider also, 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 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Midfield 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 sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Examination as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Midfield AL dental practices 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a good option for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Midfield 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 offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online school is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Midfield AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should address to the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify 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 instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Midfield AL dental practices frequently 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 offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Midfield AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to get 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 form professional relationships in the Midfield AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Check if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Midfield AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Midfield AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Entire 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 variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Midfield AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Midfield AL at nights 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 practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Midfield Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to obtain 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 programs usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Midfield Alabama.