How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygienist Program near Oxford Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Oxford AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make 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 lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other important issues to consider also, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. 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 colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Oxford AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 Examination as well as any state licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Oxford AL dental practices 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 technical 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 offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Oxford AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education much more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Oxford AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Although these are significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Oxford AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not offered for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Oxford AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance landing their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing 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 Oxford AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the Oxford AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant costs 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 colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Oxford AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must go to classes near Oxford AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, 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 need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family responsibilities.
Pick the Right Oxford Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered 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 usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. 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 as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Oxford Alabama.