How to Pick the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Montevallo Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Montevallo AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the training with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account as well, for instance the college'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 two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Montevallo AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as 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 Montevallo AL dental offices are generally required to have 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 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program may be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Montevallo AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
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 covered at the start of this article, many prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, 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 School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Montevallo AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Montevallo AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Montevallo AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Montevallo AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Montevallo AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs 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 schools, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Montevallo AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Montevallo AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Montevallo Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montevallo Alabama.