How to Find the Right Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Saraland Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist college near Saraland AL is an important first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to completing your due diligence than picking the college with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the school that is nearest to your residence. There are other crucial factors to take into account also, including the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists typically 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 lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
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 on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Saraland AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also supporting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and present their findings to the dentists. They may also carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Teaching patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Saraland AL dental practices are usually required to have 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 nearly 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. Some programs also offer internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program may be a viable alternative for getting your training. Just remember that the classes will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be available via your personal computer in the convenience of your Saraland AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to college, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be reduced also. The clinical training can often be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is provided. If you have the dedication for this method of learning, you may find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online program is the ideal choice for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Saraland AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we covered at the beginning of this article, many potential students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they look for some online options also. Even though these may be important initial considerations, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are reviewing in order to reach an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are many good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Saraland AL dental practices typically desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, often they are not provided for non-accredited colleges.
Is Adequate Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist colleges have associations with area dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the program you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, make sure that the program you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Saraland AL dental practice that specializes in dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring have an internship program. Internships are probably the best way to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students build working relationships in the professional dental community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Furnished? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges require help landing their first job. Find out if the colleges you are reviewing have job placement 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 position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are reviewing how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate atmosphere for learning where students have greater 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 monitor a couple of classes at the Saraland AL dental hygienist school that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools and if they are private or public also come into play. But along with the tuition there are other significant expenses which can add up. They can include costs 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 costs associated with your education. The majority of schools have financial aid offices, so make sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Saraland AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is especially true if you will be working while acquiring your education and have to go to 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 clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Right Saraland Dental Hygienist Courses
Enrolling in the ideal 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 several options available to acquire your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require approximately two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented 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.