How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist School near Phenix City Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Phenix City AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to consider as well, 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 accomplish. Naturally with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Phenix City AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensing exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Phenix City AL dental practices are usually 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 almost 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a viable alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Phenix City AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even offer lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist program is the best option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in almost 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phenix City AL dental practices frequently desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an important portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you choose provides 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, check that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal means 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 form professional relationships in the Phenix City AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist schools require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Phenix City AL dental profession as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Find out from the programs you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more personal atmosphere for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend 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 instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to go to classes near Phenix City AL at nights 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 practice is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Phenix City Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is essential if you want 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 receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.