How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist Training Program near Selma Alabama
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist school near Selma AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other important factors to take into account also, for instance 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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Role 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 Selma AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting area. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Teaching patients about oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
To qualify for licensing in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also 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 may add the "RDH" designation to their names, standing for Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Education Options
Because of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Selma AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually 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. Many programs also sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for obtaining your training. Just remember that the program will not be 100% online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Selma AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental programs make education far more accessible. Some may even charge lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses for items like commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced also. The practical training can typically be completed at an area dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything required to obtain the appropriate education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that attending an dental hygienist online program is the right choice for you.
What to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Selma AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we covered at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they search for several online alternatives as well. Although these are important initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the colleges you are comparing in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have supplied a list of questions to help you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist program for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist college. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a condition 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 establish that the education you receive is of the highest quality and comprehensive. Selma AL dental practices often desire or require that new hires are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is an essential component of every dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you choose provides sufficient clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately want to work in. As an example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Selma AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental colleges you are exploring have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective way to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a professional 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 Selma AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges require assistance landing their first job. Ask if the programs you are reviewing have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Selma AL dental profession in addition to extensive networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Smaller? Check with the schools you are looking at how big typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes generally offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, larger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If feasible, ask if you can attend a few classes at the Selma AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can differ in cost depending on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and if they are public or private also have an impact. But along with the tuition there are other substantial expenses 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 schools, remember to include all of the costs associated with your education. Most colleges have financial assistance offices, so be sure to find out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Selma AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you must confirm that the assistant or hygienist program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and must attend classes near Selma AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online program, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up policy is if you should need to miss any classes because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Selma Dental Hygienist Training
Picking the right dental hygienist program is important 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 numerous options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short period of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can elect to attend classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the right selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Selma Alabama.