How to Choose the Right Dental Hygiene Training Program near Sheffield Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist school near Sheffield AL is an essential initial step toward beginning your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you must evaluate and compare your school options. There is far more to performing your due diligence than selecting the training with the lowest tuition or enrolling in the program that is nearest to your home. There are other significant factors to take into account also, such as the college'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 2 to 3 years to finish. Obviously with the longer training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will talk about all of these factors and supplemental questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist programs you are evaluating later in this article. But first, let's review the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting 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 in support of the Sheffield AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are frequently the initial person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Based on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Instructing patients about oral care
- Taking and developing X-rays
- 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 must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensure examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the added 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 2 to as long as 3 years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are offered in trade and vocational 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 sponsor internships with local dental practices or dentists.
Dental Hygienist Online Training
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist program can be a great alternative for receiving your training. Just keep in mind that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical portion to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible via your personal computer in the convenience of your Sheffield AL home or elsewhere on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while going to school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of learning, you may find that attending an dental hygienist online college is the right option for you.
Issues to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sheffield AL, you can begin the process of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, a number of prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the colleges. Maybe they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these are significant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the schools you are comparing in order to make an informed decision. Toward that end, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are many valid reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist school. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental school 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. Sheffield AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And finally, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, often they are not available for non-accredited colleges.
Is Plenty of Clinical Training Included? Clinical or practical training is a vital part of any dental training program. This applies for the online school options as well. Most dental hygienist colleges have partnerships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish clinical training for their students. It's not only essential that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Sheffield AL dental office that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Ask if the dental schools you are exploring sponsor internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal way to obtain 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 establish professional relationships in the Sheffield AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist colleges need assistance getting their first job. Check if the programs you are researching have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Sheffield AL dental profession in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can position their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classes Small? Ask the schools you are reviewing how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes tend to offer a more intimate setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, bigger classes often are impersonal and provide little one-on-one instruction. If practical, ask if you can sit in on a few classes at the Sheffield AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward so that you can experience first hand the amount of interaction between students and instructors before making a commitment.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene training can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other factors, for example the reputations of the colleges and if they are private or public also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when examining the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. Most schools have financial aid departments, so be sure to ask what is offered as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Sheffield AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before selecting a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that accommodate your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while getting your education and need to attend classes near Sheffield AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, 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 Sheffield Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is essential if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are several options available to obtain your education and it takes a relatively short period 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 schools usually earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about 2 years of studies before they enter the work force. When pursuing a degree you can elect to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you elect to pursue, by addressing 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 start your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sheffield Alabama.