How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Phenix City Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program near Phenix City AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other important issues to take into account also, for instance the college's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to accomplish. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Phenix City AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensing exams. After they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Phenix City AL dental practices are generally 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 finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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. A number of programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college might be a good option for obtaining your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Phenix City AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Many may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the ideal choice for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Phenix City AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the ideal dental hygienist program 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 planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement 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 get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Phenix City AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist schools have partnerships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in provides adequate 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, confirm that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Phenix City AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Verify if the dental schools you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to receive 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 create professional relationships in the Phenix City AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance 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 community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are interested in how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes can 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 Phenix City AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in in order to witness first hand the level of interaction between teachers and students before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and if 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 expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Phenix City AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must 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 practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Best Phenix City Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools typically obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Phenix City Alabama.