How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Prichard Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Prichard AL is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than selecting the school with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider as well, including 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 finish. Naturally with the longer training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will cover all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Prichard AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in almost 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 Exam in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Prichard AL dental practices are generally 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 practical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Classes
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Prichard AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like 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 needed to get the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal option for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prichard AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, many potential students start by checking out the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be important initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and final selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Prichard AL dental practices often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This is true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you select 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 have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prichard AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are evaluating sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to obtain 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 form professional relationships in the Prichard AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs require help obtaining their first job. Ask if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Prichard AL dental profession in addition to large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning 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, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Prichard AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the amount of interaction between teachers and students before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with 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 programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prichard AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while receiving your education and need to go to classes near Prichard AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Prichard Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many alternatives available to receive your education 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 community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama.