How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Roanoke Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Roanoke AL is an essential first step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting 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, including the college's reputation and accreditation. 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 accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will talk about all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Roanoke AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- 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 also must pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Roanoke AL dental practices are normally required to hold 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 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 practical component to the training as well. Some programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a good alternative for obtaining your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your personal computer in the convenience of your Roanoke AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to get the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the best choice for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Roanoke AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online options also. Although these are relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program 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 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 college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Roanoke AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist schools have partnerships with regional dental offices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you select provides adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Roanoke AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to obtain hands-on, practical 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 develop professional relationships in the Roanoke AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need help obtaining their first job. Ask if the programs you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Roanoke AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Find out from the programs you are interested in how large on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more personal atmosphere for training where students have greater access to the instructors. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Roanoke AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost dependent on the length of the program and the volume of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of schools, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Roanoke AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to verify that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and have to attend classes near Roanoke AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Roanoke Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options offered to receive your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these programs typically receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require roughly 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Roanoke Alabama.