How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Pell City Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Pell City AL is an important first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account also, such as 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. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Pell City AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Pell City AL dental offices are often required to have 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 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 offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Pell City AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The practical training can typically be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed 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 school is the right choice for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pell City AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they look for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in almost all states. In order 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 of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pell City AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Pell City AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to receive 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 professional relationships in the Pell City AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Pell City AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Check with the programs you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Pell City AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Pell City AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Pell City AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Pell City Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to acquire your training and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies before they enter the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Pell City Alabama.