How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Prattville Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Prattville AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the college with the most affordable tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to consider as well, such as the school'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 finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these considerations and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting 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 in support of the Prattville AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first 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 responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Prattville AL dental offices are normally 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist college might be a great alternative for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Prattville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist school is the right choice for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prattville AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are reviewing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Prattville AL dental practices often desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have relationships with local dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose offers sufficient 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, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Prattville AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the most effective method 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 develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help obtaining their first job. Find out if the colleges 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 Prattville AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classrooms Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, large classes can be impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Prattville AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and need to attend classes near Prattville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select 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 illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Prattville Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many options available to acquire your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to attend classes on-campus or online. 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 by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama.