How to Select the Best Dental Hygiene College near Russellville Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Russellville AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than picking the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to consider as well, for instance 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 two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Russellville AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties may include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing 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 licensure examinations. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are regarded as fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Due to the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Russellville AL dental offices are generally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require 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 practical component to the training as well. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Choosing an online dental hygienist college might be a viable option for getting your education. Just keep in mind that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component 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 anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education a lot more accessible. Many may even charge lower tuition rates than their traditional counterparts. And added expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything needed to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the dedication for this style of learning, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the best choice for you.
Topics 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 start of this article, many potential students begin by checking out the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online options as well. Even though these are significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you should address to the schools you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of valid reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in virtually all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental program must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps ensure that the education you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Russellville AL dental practices typically desire or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited programs. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not obtainable for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital portion of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Many dental hygienist programs have associations with local dental practices and clinics that provide clinical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you choose provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Russellville AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental programs you are exploring sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the most effective method to obtain 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 build professional relationships in the Russellville AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Find out if the programs you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Russellville AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are interested in how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate environment for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Russellville AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward in order to witness first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before making a commitment.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can vary in cost depending on the duration of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools and if they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Russellville AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Russellville AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Russellville Dental Hygienist Program
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, 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 training through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When earning a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. 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 choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Russellville Alabama.