How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist College near Muscle Shoals Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Muscle Shoals AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, including the college'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 complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Muscle Shoals AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Muscle Shoals AL dental offices are usually 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a great alternative for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% 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 Muscle Shoals AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the best 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 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. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Muscle Shoals AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in provides sufficient 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, check that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Muscle Shoals AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method 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 build professional relationships in the Muscle Shoals AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Muscle Shoals AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Muscle Shoals AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides 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 analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check 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 college, you must verify that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Muscle Shoals AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Best Muscle Shoals Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training 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 programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can choose to attend 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 ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Muscle Shoals Alabama.