How to Select the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Prichard Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist school near Prichard AL is an important initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to analyze and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial issues to consider also, such as the program'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 complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role 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 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 frequently the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in almost 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 completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Prichard AL dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 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 aspect 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 program can be a great alternative for getting your education. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Prichard AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending college, online dental classes make education much more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best choice for you.
Issues to Cover With 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 beginning of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these are important initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going 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 guarantee that the training you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Prichard AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an essential portion of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the school you select offers clinical rotation in a local Prichard AL dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for 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 as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require assistance obtaining their first job. Find out if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Prichard AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally provide a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, 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 Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, such as 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 significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Prichard AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Prichard AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online program, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Prichard Dental Hygienist Courses
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist course is crucial if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly two years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can choose to go to 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 appropriate choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Prichard Alabama.