How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Phenix City Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist program near Phenix City AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, such as the program'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 accomplish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Phenix 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 often the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 in addition to passing any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Phenix City AL dental offices are often 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 vocational 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. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a good alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the comfort of your Phenix City AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The clinical training can usually be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are reviewing in order to make 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 college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the education you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Phenix City AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means to get 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 establish professional relationships in the Phenix City AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Phenix City AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are reviewing how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting 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 feasible, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Phenix City AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other significant 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program offers classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Phenix City 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 addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Phenix City Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the right choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.