How to Find the Right Dental Hygienist College near Sheffield Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Sheffield AL is an essential first step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must examine and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than picking the training with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant issues to take into account as well, for instance the program's accreditation and reputation. 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 accomplish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these considerations and supplemental questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's explore the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs provided.
The Duties of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the job of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and assists the Sheffield AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the initial person a patient sees when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their findings to the dentists. They also may carry out basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's duties can include:
- Removing tartar, stains and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients regarding oral care
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
To qualify for licensing in almost all states, dental hygienists must graduate 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 licensing examinations. When 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 as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Sheffield AL dental practices are generally required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost 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 clinical aspect to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Colleges
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program might be a great alternative for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes will not be totally online, since there will be a practical component to your training. But the remainder of your classes will be provided by means of your personal computer in the comfort of your Sheffield AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending college, online dental classes make education far more accessible. Some may even have lower tuition costs than their on-campus counterparts. And supplementary expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be reduced as well. The clinical training can typically be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sheffield AL, you can begin the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many students start by checking out the location and the cost of the schools. Possibly they look for some online alternatives also. Even though these may be relevant initial factors to consider, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to reach an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many important reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become licensed or certified, 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 training you get is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sheffield AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is an important part of any dental training program. This is true for the online school options also. Many dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the school you choose offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the school you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Sheffield AL dental practice that focuses on dental care for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental colleges you are considering have internship programs. Internships are probably the most effective means to get hands-on, practical 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 develop professional relationships in the Sheffield AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes also.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many students that have graduated from dental hygienist colleges need assistance getting their first job. Check if the colleges you are looking at have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Sheffield AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can position their students for internships or employment.
Are Classrooms Small? Ask the programs you are looking at how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes tend to provide a more intimate setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can sit in on a couple of classes at the Sheffield AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Total Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene programs can fluctuate in cost dependent on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of colleges, remember to add all of the expenses related to your education. Most schools have financial assistance departments, so be sure to check out what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Sheffield AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you continue working while acquiring your education and have to go to classes near Sheffield AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you choose an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Best Sheffield Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting the ideal dental hygienist course is important if you wish 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 options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can receive your formal training through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes and trade schools. Graduates of these programs normally obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists generally require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When obtaining a degree you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the best selection. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sheffield Alabama.