How to Enroll In the Best Dental Hygiene Program near Pinson Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Pinson AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than picking the program with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually 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 more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental 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 duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Pinson AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also 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 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 have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Pinson AL dental practices are often required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three 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 aspect to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist program may be a good option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Pinson AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Pinson AL, you can start the process 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 schools. Possibly they look for several online options as well. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Pinson AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you select offers clinical rotation in a local Pinson AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to get hands-on, clinical 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 professional relationships in the Pinson AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Ask if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Pinson AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Ask the programs you are reviewing how big typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Pinson AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also have an impact. But in addition to 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 examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Pinson AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while receiving your education and must go to classes near Pinson AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Pinson Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period 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 schools generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by asking the questions provided 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 Pinson Alabama.