How to Pick the Right Dental Hygiene College near Prattville Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Prattville AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must analyze and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job 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 assists the Prattville AL dentists and the practice. 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 room. They examine each 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 responsibilities can 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
In order to be licensed 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. Once they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Prattville AL dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a viable option for receiving your education. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Prattville AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can usually 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 discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an online dental hygienist college is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prattville AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online options also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually 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 get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Prattville AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an 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 practice that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the best 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 Prattville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools need assistance getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prattville AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Small? Ask the schools you are interested in how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, bigger classes tend to be impersonal and offer little individualized 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 experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also come into play. But besides 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 examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prattville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist 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 Prattville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still be required to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Choose the Best Prattville Dental Hygienist Program
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous alternatives available to obtain your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly two years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend 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 as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prattville Alabama.