How to Select the Best Dental Hygienist Training Program near Robertsdale Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program near Robertsdale AL is an important initial step toward starting 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 doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account also, including the school'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 complete. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Robertsdale AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are often the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in nearly 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 Exam as well as any state licensure exams. After they have fulfilled these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Robertsdale AL dental practices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college can be a viable alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Robertsdale AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition rates than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can usually be performed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the ideal choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Robertsdale AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of students start by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives also. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you should ask of the colleges you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition in virtually all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Robertsdale AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Sufficient Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. A number of dental hygienist colleges have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the school you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Robertsdale AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Robertsdale AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Small? Ask the schools you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Robertsdale AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can witness first hand the degree of interaction between instructors and students before making a commitment.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant expenses 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 colleges, don't forget to include all of the expenses related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Robertsdale AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that suit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to attend classes near Robertsdale AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you enroll in 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 have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Robertsdale Dental Hygienist Program
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools normally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require roughly 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Robertsdale Alabama.