How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Montevallo Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Montevallo AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, for instance 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 accomplish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role 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 in support of the Montevallo AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every 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 can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Montevallo AL dental offices are normally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Montevallo AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montevallo AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montevallo AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Montevallo AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical 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 form working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Montevallo AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Montevallo AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Montevallo AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Montevallo 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 addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Best Montevallo Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montevallo Alabama.