How to Find the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Monroeville Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Monroeville AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, including the school's reputation and accreditation. 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 complete. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties 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 Monroeville 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 gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensing examinations. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Monroeville AL dental practices are normally 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the program 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 convenience of your Monroeville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper 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 ideal choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Monroeville AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Monroeville AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Monroeville AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to obtain 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 Monroeville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Monroeville AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the schools you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Monroeville AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Monroeville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and need to go to classes near Monroeville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Monroeville Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect 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 appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Monroeville Alabama.