How to Find the Best Dental Hygiene Degree Program near Sheffield Alabama
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program near Sheffield AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your home. There are other crucial factors to consider as well, including the school's reputation and accreditation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to complete. Naturally with the prolonged 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 reviewing later in this article. But first, let's review the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Function of a Dental Hygienist
When contrasting the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the main difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Sheffield AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on an individual basis. They are typically the first person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine each patient's teeth and gums and report their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients about oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 Exam as well as 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
Due to the added responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists employed in Sheffield AL dental offices are often required to have 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 virtually 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 sponsor internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Dental Hygienist Online Training Programs
Enrolling in an online dental hygienist college may be a great option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a practical portion to your training. But the rest of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the comfort of your Sheffield AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education much more accessible. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus competitors. And supplementary expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened as well. The clinical training can often be completed at a community dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything required to get the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this method of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the best option for you.
Issues to Cover With Dental Hygienist Colleges
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Sheffield AL, you can start the procedure of comparing programs and schools. As we discussed at the opening of this article, a number of prospective students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be significant initial factors to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the best dental hygienist college for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are going to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a condition in nearly 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 comprehensive and of the highest quality. Sheffield AL dental practices typically prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited colleges. And last, if you are requesting a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary part of any dental training program. This holds true for the online school options as well. A number of dental hygienist schools have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only imperative that the college you enroll in provides enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you ultimately want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you select offers clinical rotation in a local Sheffield AL dental office that specializes in dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Verify if the dental schools you are evaluating sponsor an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best means to obtain hands-on, clinical experience in a real dental practice. They help 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 too.
Is Job Placement Help Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs need assistance obtaining their first job. Ask if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Colleges with higher job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the Sheffield AL dental community in addition to broad networks of contacts where they can place their students for internships or employment.
Are the Classes Small? Check with the colleges you are reviewing how large on average their classes are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal setting for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. Conversely, large classes tend to be impersonal and provide little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can attend a few classes at the Sheffield AL dental hygienist college that you are most interested in so that you can experience first hand the level of interaction between instructors and students before enrolling.
What is the Total Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can vary in cost based on the length of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools and whether they are public or private also have an impact. But besides the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include expenses for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school materials, equipment and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, remember to include all of the costs related to your education. Most colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to ask what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Sheffield AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before selecting a dental hygienist school, you need to confirm 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 need to go to classes near Sheffield AL in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you enroll in an online school, you will still have to schedule your practical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up practice is if you should have to miss any classes due to work, illness or family issues.
Pick the Best Sheffield Dental Hygienist Program
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is imperative 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 acquire 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 programs normally receive an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require about two years of studies prior to entering 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 in a better position to make the best selection. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Sheffield Alabama.