How to Select the Right Dental Hygienist Degree Program near Saraland Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist school near Saraland AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than selecting the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your home. There are other significant issues to take into account also, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists usually earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to finish. Obviously with the more extensive training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist schools you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Saraland AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients regarding 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 as well as any state licensing exams. Once they have fulfilled these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Saraland AL dental practices are often 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 complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Programs
Selecting an online dental hygienist school might be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the comfort of your Saraland AL home or anywhere else on your laptop or tablet. For those working while attending school, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The practical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the best option for you.
Questions to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Saraland AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the start of this article, many students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they search for several online options also. Even though these may be significant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are intending to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps guarantee that the training you get is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Saraland AL dental practices frequently prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not available for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Included? Practical or clinical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have relationships with regional dental practices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the program you enroll in provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Saraland AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are considering sponsor an internship program. Internships are probably the best way 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 establish working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are researching 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 Saraland AL dental profession as well as extensive networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the colleges you are evaluating how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes can be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, ask if you can attend a couple of classes at the Saraland AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, don't forget to include all of the expenses associated with your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available 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 confirm that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must attend classes near Saraland AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online college, you will still need to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes due to illness, work or family responsibilities.
Choose the Right Saraland Dental Hygienist Training
Choosing the ideal dental hygienist program is imperative if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are a number of alternatives available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these programs generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When obtaining a degree you can elect to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the ideal selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Saraland Alabama.