How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist School near Orange Beach Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Orange Beach AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important factors to consider also, for instance the school's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Orange Beach AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every 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 responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Orange Beach AL dental offices 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 complete 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 clinical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Orange Beach AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the ideal option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Orange Beach AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Even though these are important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help 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 choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Orange Beach AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Orange Beach AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method to get hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance landing their first job. Find out if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Orange Beach AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Orange Beach AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between teachers and students 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 clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public 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 textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Orange Beach AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Orange Beach AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Orange Beach Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose 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 in a better position to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Orange Beach Alabama.