How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Pell City Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist college near Pell City AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as 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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties 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 Pell City AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When 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 Education Options
Due to the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Pell City AL dental offices are often required to hold 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 virtually 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 aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a good alternative for obtaining your training. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Pell City AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pell City AL, you can start the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these are significant initial points to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at 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 right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 ensure that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Pell City AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important component of any dental training program. This holds true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you enroll in offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Pell City AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a real 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 look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Pell City AL dental community as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Small? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes tend to be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Pell City AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Pell City AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Pell City AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Pell City Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And as a result, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Pell City Alabama.