How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Program near Russellville Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Russellville AL is an important initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important issues to take into account as well, including the program's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are looking at later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Russellville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
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 licensing examinations. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Russellville AL dental practices are normally 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in trade and technical schools as well as community colleges. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a practical component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist school may be a great option for getting your training. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your desktop computer in the convenience of your Russellville AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while attending school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.
Topics to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Russellville AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they search for some online alternatives as well. Even though these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the ideal dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are planning 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 school must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Russellville AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited schools.
Is Adequate Practical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you choose offers sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Russellville AL dental office that specializes in dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are undoubtedly the best 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 develop professional relationships in the Russellville AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help landing their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Russellville AL dental profession as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Find out from the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more intimate setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, large classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Russellville AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, 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 costs 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 colleges, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial assistance offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Russellville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while getting your education and must attend classes near Russellville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Russellville Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are many alternatives offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount 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 schools normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies prior to entering the work force. When pursuing 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 presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Russellville Alabama.