How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene College near Pelham Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Pelham AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, 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 accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental 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 available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Pelham AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also carry out 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
- Educating patients about 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 Exam as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Pelham AL dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school can be a good option for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Pelham AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office 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 education, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Points to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pelham AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are relevant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 ensure that the instruction you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pelham AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Pelham AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Most graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Pelham AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Pelham AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges 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 expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Pelham AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and must attend classes near Pelham AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Pelham Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the right dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly 2 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 provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Pelham Alabama.