How to Pick the Right Dental Hygienist College near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Muscle Shoals AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, 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 program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the college's reputation and accreditation. 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. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role of Dental Hygienists
When comparing 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 in support of the Muscle Shoals AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Muscle Shoals 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 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a viable option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Muscle Shoals AL home or elsewhere 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 fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. 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 required to receive the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Muscle Shoals AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students begin by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite 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 ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Muscle Shoals AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you select provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Muscle Shoals AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to obtain hands-on, practical experience in a professional dental practice. They help 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Muscle Shoals AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the colleges you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Muscle Shoals AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Muscle Shoals AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Muscle Shoals AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Muscle Shoals Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Muscle Shoals Alabama.