How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist College near Northport Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Northport AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, including the program'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 finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties 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 Northport AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Northport AL dental practices are often 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 virtually 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the comfort of your Northport AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you may find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Northport AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Possibly they look for several online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Northport 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 provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides enough 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, make sure that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Northport AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to get 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Northport AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Check with the schools you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Northport AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Northport AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Northport AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Northport Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect 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 in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Northport Alabama.