How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene College near Mobile Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Mobile AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the school with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, for instance 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 complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Mobile AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Mobile 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a good alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mobile AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mobile AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the colleges you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mobile AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type 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 school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mobile AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are looking at have 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 form professional relationships in the Mobile AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help getting their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mobile AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Mobile AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs 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 comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Mobile AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Mobile AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Mobile Dental Hygienist Courses
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is crucial 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 numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to 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 best choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mobile Alabama.