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How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College near Phenix City Alabama

Phenix City Alabama dental hygienist cleaning patient's teethPicking the right dental hygienist program near Phenix City AL is an essential first 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 much more to doing your due diligence than picking the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the college's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.

The Function of a Dental Hygienist

Phenix City Alabama dental hygienist examining child's teeth

When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Phenix City AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results 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
    • Teaching patients about oral care
    • Taking and developing X-rays
    • Applying fillings and removing sutures

To qualify for licensing in almost 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 as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.

Dental Hygienist Education Options

Phenix City Alabama dental hygienist cleaning woman's teethBecause of the increased responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Phenix 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 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 practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.

Online Dental Hygienist Programs

Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Phenix City AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education a lot more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to receive the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.

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Topics to Ask Dental  Hygienist Colleges

Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, a number of prospective students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives also. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.

Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction 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 colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.

Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have partnerships with local dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental practice that focuses on dental services for children.

Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop professional relationships in the Phenix City AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.

Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools need help obtaining their first job. Find out if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Phenix City AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.

Are the Classes Small? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Phenix City AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.

 What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, 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 materials, equipment and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.

Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and have to go to classes near Phenix City AL in the evenings 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 policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family responsibilities.

Choose the Best Phenix City Dental Hygienist Program

big smile with white teeth by Phenix City Alabama dental hygienistPicking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed.  As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.

 

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