How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Montgomery Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Montgomery AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account also, for instance 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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Montgomery AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Examination 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, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Montgomery AL dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Montgomery AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Montgomery AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 ensure that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Montgomery AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Most dental hygienist schools have associations with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Montgomery AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Montgomery AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Montgomery AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can vary in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial assistance departments, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Montgomery AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, 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 acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Montgomery AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, 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 have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Montgomery Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several alternatives available to obtain your training 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 junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Montgomery Alabama.