How to Choose the Right Dental Hygienist College near Smiths Station Alabama
Choosing the right dental hygienist college near Smiths Station AL is an essential first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you must examine and compare your school options. There is far more to doing your due diligence than choosing the school with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is nearest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, 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 two to three years to complete. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more expense. We will discuss all of these issues and additional questions that you need to be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are assessing later in this article. But first, let's look at the duties of dental hygienists and the training programs offered.
The Job of Dental Hygienists
When comparing the role of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the biggest difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more independently. Dental assistants work with and in support of the Smiths Station AL dentists and the practice. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, deal with the patients more on an individual basis. They are frequently the first person a patient interacts with when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient's gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities may include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Instructing patients about oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly 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 exams. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Degree Options
As a result of the additional responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Smiths Station AL dental offices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can require anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in nearly 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 clinical component to the training as well. Many programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Colleges
Selecting an online dental hygienist school can be a great option for receiving your education. Just remember that the classes 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 personal computer in the comfort of your Smiths Station AL home or elsewhere on your laptop or tablet. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental classes make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even have lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses for items like books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The clinical training can often be completed at an area dental office or in an on-campus lab. With both the online and clinical training, everything necessary to obtain the appropriate education is furnished. If you have the dedication for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an online dental hygienist school is the right option for you.
What to Ask Dental Hygienist Schools
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Smiths Station AL, you can begin the process of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the beginning of this article, many potential students begin by looking at the location and the cost of the colleges. Possibly they search for some online alternatives as well. Although these may be relevant initial considerations, there are a few additional questions that you need to address to the programs you are looking at in order to arrive at an informed decision. Toward that end, we have furnished a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and final selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental School Accredited? There are a number of good reasons why you should only select an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are intending to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost 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 ensure that the education you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Smiths Station AL dental practices often prefer or require that job applicants are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for financial aid or a student loan, usually they are not available for non-accredited schools.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Practical or clinical training is a vital component of every dental training program. This is true for the online college options also. A number of dental hygienist programs have relationships with area dental offices and clinics that furnish practical training for their students. It's not only important that the college you enroll in offers adequate clinical hours but also provides them in the type of practice that you ultimately would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, verify that the program you choose offers clinical rotation in a local Smiths Station AL dental office that focuses on dental services for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best way to get 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 create professional relationships in the Smiths Station AL dentistry community. And they look good on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Support Offered? Most students that have graduated from dental hygienist schools require help getting their first job. Find out if the schools you are looking at have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Smiths Station AL dental community as well as broad networks of contacts where they can refer their students for employment or internships.
Are Classes Smaller? Ask the programs you are looking at how large typically their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually provide a more personal atmosphere for learning where students have increased access to the instructors. On the other hand, large classes often are impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If practical, find out if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Smiths Station AL dental hygienist school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the level of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Overall Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene schools can fluctuate in cost based on the length of the program and the volume of practical training provided. Other variables, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are private or public also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other substantial costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when analyzing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the costs related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to check out what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the Smiths Station AL area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist school, you must verify that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while receiving your education and have to go to classes near Smiths Station 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 work, illness or family emergencies.
Choose the Right Smiths Station Dental Hygienist Training
Enrolling in the right dental hygienist program is essential if you want to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are many options offered to obtain your education and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental hygienist programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools generally earn an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists typically require about two years of studies prior to entering the job market. When pursuing a degree you can choose to attend classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of training you decide to pursue, by asking the questions provided in this article you will be better prepared to make the ideal choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Smiths Station Alabama.