How to Pick the Best Dental Hygiene College near Montgomery Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Montgomery AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Montgomery AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Montgomery AL dental practices are usually required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take 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 community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for obtaining your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Montgomery AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online options as well. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly 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 establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montgomery AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental colleges you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective means to obtain hands-on, practical 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 establish professional relationships in the Montgomery AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Montgomery AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online college, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Montgomery Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist program is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools usually receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually 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 elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.