How to Choose the Best Dental Hygienist College near Russellville Alabama
Selecting the right dental hygienist program near Russellville AL is an essential initial step toward starting your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your choice, you need to examine and compare your school options. There is much more to performing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other important factors to consider also, for instance 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 finish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's look at the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of Dental Hygienists
When contrasting the duties 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 Russellville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 Examination in addition to passing any state licensure exams. When they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can 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 Russellville AL dental practices are often 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 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 component to the training as well. A number of programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Schools
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist school may be a viable option for receiving your education. Just keep in mind that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Russellville AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental programs make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition rates than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The clinical training can usually be performed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best option for you.
Questions to Ask Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Russellville AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options also. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are several important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a prerequisite in nearly 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 establish that the instruction you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Russellville AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of every dental training program. This applies for the online college options as well. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the program you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Russellville AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are looking at have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the ideal method to receive hands-on, clinical experience in a real 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 are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist programs need assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are considering have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Russellville AL dental community in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate environment for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can sit in on a few classes at the Russellville AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial 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 comparing the cost of colleges, remember to include all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Russellville AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you need to make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Russellville AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Russellville Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist course is essential 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 many alternatives available to acquire your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists usually require roughly two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the appropriate selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Russellville Alabama.