How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Saraland Alabama
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist school near Saraland AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you must assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than selecting the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your home. There are other crucial issues to take into account as well, such as 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 prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will explore all of these concerns and supplemental 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 Role of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Saraland AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are usually the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed 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 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, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the additional responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Saraland AL dental offices are usually 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 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. Many programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Online Dental Hygienist Training Programs
Choosing an online dental hygienist program can be a great option for getting your education. Just remember that the classes will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Saraland AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while going to college, online dental classes make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And additional expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be completed at a community dental office 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 discipline for this method of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
Points to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Saraland AL, you can start the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives also. Although these may be significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you should ask of the programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only enroll in an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, 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. Saraland AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Sufficient Clinical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. Many dental hygienist schools have associations with local dental practices and clinics that furnish 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 ultimately would like to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Saraland AL dental office that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best means to receive hands-on, practical experience in a real dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students develop working relationships in the professional dental community. And they look good on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Assistance Furnished? Most graduating students of dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Saraland AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Smaller? Ask the schools you are interested in how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes generally offer a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can monitor a few classes at the Saraland AL dental hygienist school 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 Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 examining the cost of programs, don't forget to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Saraland AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Saraland AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you choose an online college, you will still be required to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up procedure is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Choose the Right Saraland Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you wish to take the National Board Dental Hygiene examination or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are numerous options offered to receive your training and it takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs typically earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Saraland Alabama.