How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygienist 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 before you can make your choice, you need to evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider also, such as the school's reputation and accreditation. 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. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will explore all of these issues and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the job of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the main difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Prichard AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Prichard AL dental offices 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 community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. 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.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a great option for receiving your training. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Prichard AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Prichard AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the start of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Possibly they search for some online options as well. Although these are important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going 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 program 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. Prichard AL dental practices frequently desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Prichard AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are looking at have internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students create working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Check if the programs you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Prichard AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are Classrooms Small? Check with the schools you are reviewing how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and offer little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Prichard AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to 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 schools can vary in cost dependent on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Prichard AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program offers classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Prichard AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Prichard Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the right dental hygienist program is crucial if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the best choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama.