How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Pelham Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist program near Pelham AL is an important initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, 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 program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, including the school's reputation and accreditation. 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 finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties 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 biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Pelham AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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. Once they have fulfilled 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
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Pelham AL dental offices are generally 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 finish 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.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Pelham AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pelham AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. 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 Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pelham AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Pelham AL dental office that specializes in dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to receive 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 form professional relationships in the Pelham AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Pelham AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Pelham AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Pelham AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while getting your education and must go to classes near Pelham AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical 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 emergencies.
Pick the Best Pelham Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two 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 choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Pelham Alabama.